Tag Archives: constitution

2 Cents Worth On Life Its Ownself

The offerings here beat the prices at Wal-Mart.  Even those of dubious distinction are still a bargain.  So, with a nod to Blackie we are off again.

Even the most ardent fans of Obamacare must have some pause when they consider the individual mandate that was just struck down by the Federal Court in Virginia.  If the Commerce Clause permits that then there is no limit to the reach of the Federal government into your daily life.  They could require that 25% of all your food purchases by veggies, which might make some moms happy, but many might feel their right of a personal choice has been infringed upon.  It would be easy to issue vouchers (like the ration coupons during the War) and they voucher required that 25% of it use be for veggies.  Ponder that a moment.

It ain’t just olcranky here worrying about the expansion of Chinese military power for the long-term.   Those smart folks in notoriously pacific Japan have begun revising their strategic military policy to counter some of that Chinese threat.   Lots of the “smartest guys in the room” are beginning to get nervous about the future threats from China, perhaps we should take note ourselves.

The Fed’s announced purpose in the latest QE2 600 billion printing binge is to hold down long term rates.  Yet, since that announcement became official the rate on the 10 treasury has risen about 1 percentage point.  That affects the mortgage rates and other lending rates for small business.  How’s that working out for us?   Do those Fed printers really know what they are doing or is the King not wearing any clothes?

Over the course of history there have been many attempts to redistribute the wealth of a society to make everything “fair”.  That effort has existed since the time of the Jubilee in the Old Testament to the Soviet Union.  I have a question.  If that idea is so good and makes everything fair for everyone then why did they have to repeat it every few decades?

The subject of tax rates and tax reform is much the rage these days.  We got a brief extension of the current rates by a whisker past the lame duck Congress.  Olcranky would like to see a completely new tax system and tax code.  If he were King for a day the first rule in the endeavor would be a requirement that the new tax code couldn’t be more than 50 pages long, including definitions and footnotes.   If it can’t be done in that length then it is too complicated or too many special interests (crony capitalists, public unions, etc) are having too much influence in its drafting.   Like folks did in the old days when they paid off their mortgage they would have a party and invite family and friends and burn the mortgage; we need a bonfire for the 70,000 existing tax code.

Most of you have never heard of or have any idea what the CFR is.  Good for you but you should.  It is the Code of Federal Regulations.  It is hundreds  of thousands of pages long.  Tt is written by almost all Federal agencies, bureaus and commissions.  From the Labor Department, OSHA, EPA, FCC, Commerce department, Transportation Department, etc.  The list alone would take pages to delineate.  Those regulations have the force of law unless and until overturned by a Court and to win a challenge you normally have to prove the regulation is frivolous, or arbitrary and unreasonable which is a very high hurdle legally.  These are laws not approved by Congress but formulated by bureaucrats with pointy heads and making over $100,00 per year to make your life better.  At least that is their story and they are sticking to it.

Before you rush out to buy that electric car you best consider the charging issues.  You do know that you can’t just plug it into your existing outlet.  If you did it would take even longer than the estimated 8 hours of charge time.  You will have to install a new 240 watt outlet.  Get an estimate from your local electrician.  What do you do in the middle of the night when there is an emergency and you have to drive 30 miles but the useful electric life is only for 10 miles?  We won’t even talk about the increase in your electric bill each month.  But you can breathe that pure air (which is already 80% nitrogen).  When are they going to tackle all that excess and damaging nitrogen?

Many disparage investing in gold alleging that it has no inherent value and that the current prices are artificial and will fall.  I’m not smart enough to predict that but I know people since recorded history have always treasured gold in every society.  When civilized nations, empires or people spread out to the far corners of the earth and met the savages they always noted that even the savages liked gold and sought it out.  Don’t argue with history or the markets I say.  It might only be good for filling cavities but people like it and it will always have some value and it can’t file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy like the “Golden” GM.

Great Britain is enduring another strong snow storm and bout of cold weather just like they had last year.  I wonder how much longer they can endure all this Global Warming? 

It is pretty amazing that a new-born infant smells so special and nice.  You don’t have to add lotions, creams or powder and they smell terrific.  Well, except when they have been “busy”. 

“Men show no mercy and expect no mercy, when honor calls, or when they fight for their idols or their gods.”  Schiller www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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Filed under business, Economics, Foreign Affairs, Global Warming, government, history, law, Politics

Do Over Revolution

The centrifugal forces of politics are pulling our nation farther and farther away from each other.  It is a bit sad but realistic.  We have always had our divisions from the beginning with different visions for our nation’s future.  Today that gulf between left and right has widen to such an extent that closing that breach appears impossible.  Those on the right despise for the most part Pelosi, Schumer, Frank, Reid and Obama because they believe they are stealing their freedoms.  The left denigrates and has no regard for those on the right who they believe are neanderthals bent on suppressing the masses.   Rather than bullets and blood in the streets it is time to seriously consider a “reset” (the popular phrase of the day) of our political functions and functioning.

We have written before of the distinct possibility of calling a Constitutional convention which is authorizes by the Constitution and doing a serious rewrite of our organizational structure to try and please most of us at least most of the time.  The nation could be divided into two segments with the liberals getting essentially the east and west coasts and the middle America taking the rest.  Each could be free to set its own policies regarding all the contentious issues of the day without the constant acrimony we have now.  Immigration, taxes and method of taxation, interpretation of the Commerce Clause, health care, foreign policy, power of the courts, trade issues, affirmative action, the power of unions,  socialism  and the host of other bitter struggles could be resolved be each segment to its liking.  The armed forces would be divided and then compacts entered into to for free trade and mutual support from foreign threats.  There are a host of matters not covered here but they could be dealt with by law, not government fiat.   It would work and we could even allow an extensive period for people to choose which America they wanted as theirs.   It is either that or a coming revolution.  The two visions of America for the future simply don’t mesh and never will.  We should at least be honest about that.  Not to recognize that truth is to stick your head in the sand and extend and pretend that all will be well.   Our forefathers took the bold approach and acknowledged that separation from England was the only course.  At least this would be the peaceful method.

If we don’t do something like that then we face a certain revolution somewhere in our future.   That would mean winner take all and somebody would be very unhappy with that outcome.  The Right and center right probably outnumber the left by 2 to 1 but that one-third is still a significant group of people.   They have an inordinate amount of power now through their control of government.  Government is seen by many now as the enemy, the problem; the intellectual plutocrats see it as the end all and be all because they now best.

If we don’t head toward the Convention route then there is still one half way house to perhaps reign in the over reaching power of the central government and that is a taxpayer strike.  That would be our last best hope of taking the country in the direction we want.   If successful it would permanently trim the sails of the left and de-fang the beast in Washington.  That beast needs us to supply it the money it needs to keep its boot on our necks.   As much as Washington vilifies business and the “rich” they are essential because they are what pays for everything DC wants to do.  To redistribute the wealth there has to be wealth in the first place that you can take. 

What if one fine day say only 10 million of us who actually pay federal income taxes filed our tax returns completely accurately but didn’t forward a check with it.  No tax fraud would be committed you just don’t have the money to pay.   The lost revenue in one fell swoop would be enormous.  They couldn’t jail us all or shoot us all.  They need us anyway in spite of the fact that they hate us.   The fact is they would have to make a deal with us.  Maybe that would give us the chance to seriously re -work some of the most egregious of their actions of the past few decades.   We don’t need to riot in the streets but we could  do it in the privacy of our own homes.  The impact of a taxpayer revolt would be overwhelming and effective. 

These are thoughts to ponder as you sit in traffic today.  We can’t continue the way we are now without drastic and very negative effects down the road.  The current political environment and system simply will not allow the sea change the nation needs in its middle age; especially is this true with the current very liberal federal courts.  You contemplate our current dilemmas and direction and you come up with a scenario with a happy ending without some drastic action, if you can.  Love to hear it.

Much is being made of the heat wave in Moscow this summer.  Quite true, but if you look at the rest of Europe i.e., London, Berlin, Paris, etc, you will see they are very comfortable and normal.  Mother Nature always has its way whether we approve or not.   http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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BP And The Rule Of Law

I wouldn’t know judge Feldman from a little green apple but he made a great and correct decision on the Gulf moratorium and it is a trumpet call for the rule of law to be restored.  The current gang in the white house has abused the rule of law with their “Chicago Way” at every turn since they invaded the white house.   The GM bailout and bogue Chapter 11 proceeding would stand at the top of the evidentiary list.  I have only been specializing in that work for 43 years so what would I know.  First, they send up that Rathman fellow who now is under all sorts of investigations for wrongdoing and he strong arms everyone with the explicit backing of the White House.   Government, Inc. had more conflicts of interests than can be counted since it was a major creditor both pre and post petition and then it was the owner of the Debtor.  Then it engaged in claims buying in the most flagrant manner.   It won that case because of the implied and express threats of the harm it could cause and would cause to anyone who opposed its position.  It was their way or no way.

That is only one of many examples of the abusing of the concept of the rule of the law in our country by this gang.   It is very important and instructive that our military who fight to defend our American way of life do not take an oath to the commander-in-chief when they are sworn in.  Many folks confuse or intentionally ignore this important fact.  It is the prime example of how much we regard the rule of law historically.  All our servicemen when they join up take an other to protect and defend the CONSTITUTION; they do not swear to defend or obey any particular person or office.   It is hard to imagine those who think the Tea Parties folks have it all wrong when the center piece of their movement is following the Constitution.

Under the concepts of law in our country it has been well established for decades that the standard to overturn any regulatory rule of a federal agency is very high.   The plaintiff is required to prove that the rule in question is arbitrary or capricious.   That is even higher than the standard of proof for the criminal cases where it is proof beyond a reasonable doubt.    The Feds already had pages, thousands of them, in place regulating the oil industry drilling programs in the Gulf.  One accident occurs and then they decide to shut down an entire industry.  The fact that there was an accident is not proof that there will be another one.  Every human endeavor is subject to accident and you can bet you bottom dollar they will occur.  But that is completely different from proof of some specific procedure that is dangerous or equipment that is likely subject to failure.  You can have two events or facts that are true but unrelated.  That indeed is an old standard question from medical schools where you are given two sets of data that are both true and you are asked to say whether they are related or lead to a particular conclusion or that maybe they are unrelated.  The current accident in the Gulf is unrelated to the risk of a future leak.  Yes, they will be future accidents, there will be future earthquakes, train wrecks, crane collapses, plane crashes, and food poisonings, but we won’t shut down the various industries involved because of that.

The judge ruled that the existing rules were changed arbitrarily without regard to the actual risk presented.   He rightly discerned that the decision for the moratorium was political not regulatory.  The alleged commission  the gang has appointed will be a waste of time.  Since it is filled with environmentalists and academics you can be assured in advance what the outcome will be.  There is not a single person on that commission to examine the spill with real world experience in the oil and gas industry.   The judge found that simply because there was a problem with one well out of dozens that that was not proof of problems with the others there.  As a society we take risks every day to function.  We assume the food will be safe, the drugs will be safe, the planes will be safe and we certainly would not want those entire industries shut down due to one accident. 

Hopefully the Fifth Circuit will confirm the decision of judge Feldman and save thousands of jobs.  Lord knows we need every person we can get to have a job and these are good jobs doing work that is vital to our economic and industrial needs.  Maybe some day we will travel to work on our anti-gravity skyhook but until then we need the oil for another generation if we are to maintain our standard of living.  That moratorium will kill drilling in the Gulf likely forever because those rigs will go and the suppliers to them will shut down.  Your gas will cost 5 bucks a gallon for sure and hope you enjoy the brown outs coming.   Oil isn’t used for electric production but it is linked.  The Greens don’t like coal, the oil will be imported and they don’t seem willing to push natural gas so…..conclusion, less energy down the run.

Napoleon said that a commander could be excused for a mistake but never for being surprised.  www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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Filed under business, Economics, Environment, government, law

2 Cents Worth–Constitution, Dollar, Sports, Weather

It appears we will have some sort of health reform bill in the near future.  Forgetting all the political and indeological arguments I do wonder how much more it will cost each of us.  The free lunch analogy will apply here like it does to everything.  To pay for all those without coverage who say they can’t afford it will cost something and there is only one place the money can ultimately come from–you and me.  Regardless of how it is structured or the nomenclature used the cost will be passed to us directly or indirectly.

With health care I note that the Dems still will not allow an amendment to specifically deny coverage to illegal aliens.  In my home county I pay $1500.00 per year for the county hospital tax and that facility’s patients are now majority illegals.  I got no problem with charity for anyone.  But I do have a real problem with pre natal care for months before delivery and other like medical services.  Mexico should be responsible for its own health care issues. 

Have you noticed the gyrations of the players in the NFL lately?  They are getting more and more animated with each passing year.  I found it appalling and disgusting myself.  Sportsmanship should be a vital part of any sporting activity.  This fist pumping, jumping around like rabbits in heat and finger pointing is narcissitic and self promotion.  A gentleman or real man should never act that way especially after he has done something well.  A simple handshake with teammates, a slap on  the back or wave of the hand is enough.  They can yell with their teammates as loud as they want.   Just don’t “play” to the audience.  It is becoming more like WWF every week.  A vaudeville of true athletic contests.

I wonder why the Army and Marines don’t bring back the Browning Automatic rifle as part of their regular arms for the combat platoons and companies.  Talk with any of the older vets from WWII or Viet Nam and you will  find they loved those heavy 50 caliber machine guns and that Browning.  Those modern rifles are about the size of a .22 and have no “knock down” or killing power.  Those heavy bullets from the Browning will go through walls and certainly bring down the opponent in a firefight.  Ask the soldiers that is what they want in those moments of sheer terror when the bullets are flying.   Each platoon should have at least one of them.

Have you noticed how no matter when Easter comes there is always a cool spell that accompanies it?  Whether it is an early one in March or late in the third week of April it seems mother nature also wants us to pull out the sweaters one last time before the settling in of warm weather.

Why do I so often have to sit beside someone on the plane who chews gums incessantly?  Not only do you have to see the movement of their jaws but inevitably they smack and slurp the gum.  I don’t care if they chew but put a sack over their head at least so I don’t have to particiapte.

There is something always so refreshing and invigorating about standing up high on the mountain side in Colorado or the other western states and lookint out over the great vistas.  There is one spot on the highway from Colorado Springs as you head west toward Breckenridge where you can stop and see for at least 50 miles across a wide valley and up to the next range of mountains.  It is like looking at the Grand Canyon.  At least for a few moments the politics and worries of the economy don’t seem so bad as you sit there and take in the view.

Will the US dollar slowly evaporate like a drying lake bed during a drought or will it collapse quickly in an avalanche?  Current policy from D. C. and the Treasury and Fed are weakening the dollar and the continuing deficits for everything on the Dems wish list and the soaring debt guarantee the fall of the dollar.  That fall will damage our economy for years and years regardless of any other factor.  Others around the world will suspect, rightly so, that we will be tempted to either simply print more money to pay off the debt with cheaper dollars or else tax ourselves into oblivion and that will likewise curtail any economic growth.  Unless the course is changed within a couple of years it will be too late to stop this disaster.  The correction will take a generation.   If you think things are difficult now wait until the dollar has been devalued by 30% in the next few years.  Try getting a job then.

It is time to revive the idea of a national Constitutional convention.  Most folks only think of the method of amending the Constitution by the 2/3rds of each house of Congress and then  a submission to the States for approval by 3/4ths of them.  But there is the alternate method of having 2/3rds of the States demand the call for a convention to propose amendments.  There was growing talk of considering that in the late ’70’s which most of you won’t recall but then Reagan came and the need and seeming need for it diminished.  Now with the polarization of the nation growing more apparent with each passing day perhaps it is time to finally do that.  The basic amendments would allow the country to split along ideological lines and each area implement its own version of the welfare state or not.  Then we wouldn’t have to argue so much with each other.  Those who want a socialized society could have it and if they thrive good on ’em.  Others could take a different path.  The Dems could allow every illegal in their areas to instantly become voters and citizens if they wanted.  Of course with the division of the political power they really wouldn’t need those votes any more; one wonders if they would be as anxious to include them if they didn’t bring needed political clout to the table.  The Dems would already run their areas.  The common defense and other vital issues of interstate commerce would remain a national matter as long as it would work. 

“The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him, he dies for lack of discipline, and because of his great folly his is lost”  Proverbs   www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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Filed under business, Culture, Economics, Environment, government, immigration

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

Did the Govt. Confiscate AIG?

When I first read about the takeover of AIG I was curious about the details of how that worked.   I read that the Government took a 80% owenership in the AIG stock and diluted the existing shareholders.   There was scarce mention of any of the details and as a lawyer I was shocked about how fast the takeover was implemented.   The insurance subsidiaries of AIG are regulated by the various states where they do business and insurance companies can be put into receivership by the state authorities.  There is no Federal regulation of the insurance companies.  The parent or holding company of AIG was apparently where  the problems were and the bad investments.  That was the company taken by the Feds.  You have read that the insurance policies will all be honored and I am not surprised by that because the insurance companies are required to have assets both liquid and non liquid backing up their obligations under the policies they write.   AIG holding had obviously invested heavily in the securities backing the subprime  mortgages and it was that position that caused the takeover, at least that was the announced version.   I can only go on what has been made available like you.   

They did the whole thing over a weekend and that was what really got my curiositiy up.   How did they obtain the necessary corporate and shareholder approvals on such short notice?   Well, the facts are emerging.  There was no approval other than apparently by some board vote of the holding company.   I don’t know what state AIG is incorporated in but every state has corporate laws in place that regulate corporate governance and the rights of shareholders.   In all the states a takeover like that would require a vote of the shareholders since their ownership and rights were being affected.   For such a takeover it is usually at least a two thirds votes of each class of shares.   You can understand that a board or no one else can simply come in and take away your stock.   I do wish I had all the details about the structure of this because on the surface it would appear to be illegal.  I know the Federal Reserve has a provision in its enabling statutes that gives it powers to intervene in “exigent circumstances” whatever the hell means.   And when did the Federal Reserve get into the insurance business and the brokerage busines and the investing business.

As you know if you have read here before I have no love for AIG or its shareholders.  Had bad dealings with the  company myself a few years ago.  But I do like things to be done according to Hoyle.   Do we even know that AIG was bankrupt?   Did it have a net worth?   Was it paying its bills on time as they came due?   If you know the answer I would sure like to know and where you got the info.   Point is those shareholders may have had value, maybe a lot, and it was  confiscated by the Government.  Even if it had minimal value the shareholders have the right to expect their company to file a Chapter 11 and see if things couldn’t be worked out over time and return value to them.  Everyone from Barney Frank to Boehner agree those underlying mortgages have long term value.  Saving a company by allowing it to access that long term value is exactly what a Chapter 11 is designed to accomplish.  That right has also been foreclosed by the Government.

Under the 5th amendment to the US Constitution, it provides that “nor shall private property be taken for public use witnhout just compensation” .  No matter the statutory authority of the Fed I think they still have to comply with the Constitution, don’t you?   The Constitution trumps any statute that contravenes its precepts.  What was the public use of the shares of stock taken by the Government?  You know as well as I what things and purposes have been considered as a public use over the last 200 years–roads, schools, post offices, public buildings, utilities, etc.  When did owning stock become a public purpose?  It is one thing to regulate an industry but quite another to seize it and take its value (whatever that may be, great or small) into the Government coffers.   Those share ownership rights are private property.  They apparently have been seized by the Government.   The Government barged in and  said we are taking 80% of your stock.  I have read not one word of what compensation the Government is giving those shareholders.  If the stock was completely worthless as some might argue–then answer me this–why was the Government rabid as hell to get it?   What person what industry might be next on the Government list for takeover for the public good as some bureaucrats and politicians determine that public good.  I don’t even like AIG and frankly thought all along and do now that if it failed then so be it.  If the shareholders lost everything because of that then I have no sympathy for them.   No one seems sorry about my losses in the last couple of months.   However, I am appalled at the naked power play of the Government and what seems to be nothing more than confiscation of property the Government wanted for its own purposes, not a public purpose.   If that is going to be the new game in town then let’s at least do it right and amend the Constitution.  Maybe some of the shareholders will file suit at some point.  Sure would be interesting to follow that case.

We have those Constitutional rights at great costs over the years.  I hate to see them evaporated like a wisp of morning fog on the lake.   Remember the sign off on the Declaration of Independence–“we pledge our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor”.


Filed under Economics, government, Politics

Unintended consequences, political and otherwise

You might not believe it but the US Constitution has a provision that was designed to avoid the worst outcomes of unintended consequences.   The drafters went to great trouble to be as precise as they could delineating the powers of the three branches of Government.   Those powers and duties are the very heart of our political system and much thought went into how they wanted matters organized and which branch should have what powers.   Article One lays out a rather lengthy list of powers of congress, but it is finite.   Naturally some of the language is broad as you would expect.   It was fear of too much power in the hands of the central Government you recall that inspired the Bill of Rights.  They rushed it through somewhat because it was apparent that the Constituion might not be approved otherwise.   One of the most important of those rights is found in Article Nine of the Amendments.

Article Nine reads as follows: “The enumeration in the constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people”.  There was a concern that congress might try to use some of its powers in the constitution to be bundled or intrepreted in such a manner that a power not specifically set forth would be granted by default to congress.  People worried that congress would use very vague and general language  to take over areas of their lives that the constitution did not expressly address.   They wanted congress to have the powers laid out but no more.   They were concerned about unintended consequences from the intrepretation of the constitution by congress or the courts.   It is one of our most important rights and one that has sadly been eroded over the years.   FDR with his plan to virtually seize control of all  the US economy and industry would have taken powers never invisioned or expressed in the constitution.  He believed it was best for the country at the time and that only Government could save the day.   Fortunately for all of us the Supreme Court did stand the test that time and struck down his National Recovery Act which as a practical matter would have nationalized the entire economy, complete with Five Years plans just like the Commies had been publishing in Russia.   FDR was furious at being thwarted and tried to get the Supreme Court increased in size to 12 or more so he could appoint judges friendly to his view and know they would interpret the law his way.  Does all that sound pretty familar from today’s headlines?   Pakistan ring any bells.   Musharraf fought with his court and made sure by firings and new appointments that he had only friendly judges.    History shows we managed to come through tough times without the national recovery act and thank God for once for the Court.  In many modern instances the Court however has eroded the meaning of the Ninth Amendment with some of its sweeping rulings in the last two generations.  You can make your own list of them.   Whoever wins the election you should insist that the President only appoint judges who  respect and acknowledge the Ninth Amendment and the Tenth  also.  We will speak of the Tenth another day soon.   But for now give some thought to the Ninth and I hope it will inspire you to study more, read more–the Federalist Papers for example.   Those were pretty smart fellows and the language of the constitution and Bill of Rights was not casually thrown together.  The words mean something.   They protect you.

Charity begins at home.   I do wish so many do gooders would remember this one.  I am religious and do believe in charity and even missionary work.  I have never understood or agreed with the notion however that we need to send charity to all corners of the globe when we have unmet needs in our own city, county and State.   I support my church and approve whole heartedly of good works for those in need.  But why do we send them to S. America, Indonesia or someplace in Africa when we could do the work at home.   I personally think it is sometimes  more of a “prestige” thing.  I could be wrong but it seems that way to me often.   It is more romantic and adventurous to say you have gone to Nigeria to help than it is to say you are volunteering at the local public hospital.   But those folks a mile away need you as much as someone thousands of miles away.  I know some will disagree with my view but that makes it interesting.   Maybe I am full of  beans and there really is some inherent value I don’t see in travelling miles away to do good.  Maybe I have a vision or “vision” problem.

Lastly, “charity” means kindness.  We should be charitable to those in our own homes.  We all stand accused of not being as kind as we ought to be to the very ones we love the most.    When was the last time you denied charity to a loved one because you were too tired, too focused on your own life, too judgmental.   Let’s hope we all can improve.

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