The Front Porch Agenda?

by Caleb Stegall on November 2, 2009 · 38 comments <span>Print this article</span> Print this article

in Politics & Power

With all the talk about “what is to be done,” in terms of a decentralizing political agenda, I thought I’d throw some ideas out there, with the intent only of providing a beginning point to a discussion.  Some of the ideas may be hairbrained, some are old hat.  The intent behind each, however, is to undermine the power of the centralized managerial “trusts” and devolve power as far as possible back down the line to families and households.

1.  Govenor’s Veto Act.  By special session, the governors of the 50 states may by simple majority vote veto any act of Congress, subject to the same veto override rules applicable to the Federal Executive.

2.  Supreme Court Expansion Act.  Grant each state one seat on the Supreme Court to be appointed by the various governors subject to confirmation by the various state legislatures.

3.  Balanced Budget Act.  The Federal budget must balance unless overridden by a 3/5 vote of Congress.

4.  Small Business Protection Act.  Exempt all small businesses (defined generously … 250 employees? 10million gross?) from every single federal law.

5.  Fair Tax Act.  National sales tax to replace income tax.  Flat exemption for first X number of dollars per person, so a family of 4 gets 4 times the exemption of a single person.

6.  Free Speech Act.  Unlimited speech/spending by individual persons on campaigns and/or lobbying with complete bar to corporate persons spending.

7.  Term Limit Act.  Term limits for federal elected positions.

8.  Congressional Responsibility Act.  Make every congressman sign a statement of having fully read any piece of legislation they vote on.

Some other ideas … real imigration reform, end national banking … allow state banks and banking systems … end selective service and require declaration of war before extended military adventures …

This kind of thing has to be boiled down and simplified a la the Contract With America in order to congeal into a political movement with any umpph.  Tactically speaking, the Front Porch Agenda should look to winning governor’s mansions as the only remaining legitimate means of challenging the dominion of the federal beast.  The states must live again as politically sovereign jurisdictions.

{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar JS Bangs November 2, 2009 at 1:21 pm

Some thoughts:

1) Does the Governor’s Veto require *every* governor to sign on to the veto? If so, I don’t see how that does much of anything, since getting every governor to agree to a veto seems fantastically unlikely. But if *any* governor can veto, then we have the opposite problem: there’s barely anything that Congress can pass that some governor won’t veto. Is that the point? Also, this requires a Constitutional amendment, making it very difficult to pass.

2) Likewise, I don’t see how turning the Supreme Court into a body of 50+ jurists helps much, except that it highly dilutes the President’s influence on the Court. Is that the point? How does diluting the President’s influence on the Court further Porcher agendas?

3) Sounds good.

4) Sounds *great*. Doesn’t have a snowman’s chance in hell of passing.

5) Sounds good. This one might actually pass.

6) Sounds good.

7) Sounds good, but properly needs a constitutional amendment, which is extremely difficult.

8) Making Congressmen sign more pieces of paper doesn’t seem like a great move. I would rather attack the *size* of bills, and make every act of Congress contain no more than 20,000 words (which is still nearly 100 pages).

avatar Bob Cheeks November 2, 2009 at 1:25 pm

For right now, because I gotta go split wood and such, THIS IS WHAT I’M TALKIN’ ABOUT!!!!!
Every time some smart aleck puts the mouth on lawyers I want our brethern here at FPR to remember what’s written above and who wrote it!
If we could find us about a hundred like minded thinkers like Caleb we’d get the country straightened up in a couple of years!
There’s much meat here and I hope the commentors and contributors hit this hard before this evening when I’m coming back to bloviate!
Absolutely brilliant!

avatar Caleb Stegall November 2, 2009 at 1:26 pm

1) Requires 26 govs. Liklihood is irrelevant, it makes the states legitimate political actors again at the nat’l level.

2) Dilutes the power of one justice and per #1, makes the states legitimate policital actors.

4) I’m more optimistic about this one’s chances, but admittedly, all of these are difficult to actually pass. We’re talking about an agenda here that is imaginable.

8 ) Makes congressional votes more accountable. Meaningless in one sense, but good fodder for opposing all the yes men. This is really a bullet aimed at the heart of Congressional leadership offices (and the lobbyists who run them).

avatar r November 2, 2009 at 1:46 pm

1 is a non-starter. We do not need more of the dynamic that allows for the deal-making and extortion that define the Senate. After the federal government is trimmed back a bit this might be a sensible move. Do it beforehand, though, and it will only strengthen it. Giving even more power to low-population states to draw federal subsidy means they will never be willing to wean themselves from the teat.

And 7 is asking for trouble. We’ve had term limits in CA for a while now and they’ve been disastrous. Not only is every legislator inexperienced, now he’s fundamentally disloyal: “An eye to the next election” has been replaced by “an eye to the next position.” It’s resulted in a hyper version of the never-ending campaign and made the bozos more dependent on campaign cash and kowtowing to powerful interests than ever.

avatar Boots November 2, 2009 at 2:13 pm

Governors veto was defacto the case before the 17th Amendment. Just repeal that and we’ll have a more responsible Congress.

avatar Russell Arben Fox November 2, 2009 at 2:35 pm

1) A fairly good idea, I think. Part of me is fearful that it could be abused in such a way as to essentially take us back to the Articles of Confederation, which I’m not quite willing to support. But if it functioned as a check on federal power, particularly the coercive federal mandates that the national government tends to toss off without much thought, I’m for it.

2) Interesting idea. I’m not sure it would fundamentally change the operations of the court, however. I would rather see the power of the federal judiciary more directly attacked, à la Jeremy Waldron, by taking on judicial review as a whole.

3) Does any state have a specific provision like this? Why not simply work to alter the Constitution so the president can have the line-item veto?

4) Every federal law? Regarding child labor, environmental protection, worker safety, the minimum wage, the whole kit and kaboodle? I don’t know–I can see the point of pushing for that, and certainly thousands of family-owned, locally operated, small-scale businesses need the flexibility, but the resulting abuses might be massive. At the least, there would have to be provisions which would prevent larger corporations from creating some legal fiction allowing each and everyone of their subdivisions to pose as a “small business.”

5) I like sales taxes better than I like income taxes–they’re a more direct influence on social and economic behavior, after all–but you’d have to come up with a pretty sophisticated exemption scheme to prevent any national sales tax from being regressive in the extreme. And then, of course, there’s the simple fact that huge inequalities in wealth themselves warp communities, affecting where people live, how they look for work, etc. Perhaps design a sales tax to collect the bulk of national taxes, but bring a progressive income tax in to start its work when you hit an income of a high enough level: 100K a year? 150K?

6) What do you mean, “complete bar to corporate persons spending”? A complete ban on campaign spending donations coming from business and corporations? Meaning anything that comes out of a real person’s bank account is okay, but anything from any other source wouldn’t be allowed? There’s a lot of grey area there.

7) I used to be a strong fan of term limits; now I am less so. I can see the arguments for them. But unprofessional citizen-politicians are often even more subject to the harrassments and inducements of the lobbying culture than the professionals are. It seems to me that before we break apart the professionalization of our political class, we need to break apart the power of interest groups, meaning breaking apart the power of corporations to raise funds and support candidates. (In regards to both this point and #6: wouldn’t a complete ban on private spending, and the imposition of publicly funded campaigns, be more direct? If you find that idea appalling, as an infringement upon the right of any citizen to write a check if they so choose, then we have to answer why we wouldn’t let corporations do the same. Of course, if the answer then is to take apart the legal protections which have allowed corporations to claim “personhood” in terms of owning property and whatnot over the past century and a half, I’m all for it!)

8. Nope. We vote on our representatives on their ability to pursue the ends we support, not on their ability to read like an accountant with a fine-tooth comb every legal word you lawyers write.

More later, perhaps. Some thought-provoking ideas, Caleb!

avatar Bob November 2, 2009 at 3:05 pm

9. Reform monetary policy and banking (aka End the Fed)

Without #9, #5 will be moot. As long as Fed can control money supply and banks can create money, a hidden tax is in effect against working people.

avatar Ryan Davidson November 2, 2009 at 4:28 pm

Some of these are fine ideas, about which more as I have time, but most of them would require constitutional amendments via Art. V rather than simple acts of Congress, so I can’t see this going anywhere.

But I’d strenuously disagree with suggestion 2. Come on, Caleb, you’ve been to law school. You know that isn’t how courts work. You can make arguments about the appropriate role of the federal judiciary and Supreme Court if you like, but this would render it not a court. Nine justices is, by historical standards, a rather large number, and even that’s only barely workable.

You may not like what the Court does some of the time, but the number of cases which are objectionable to anyone other than the losing party–or interesting for more than about a decade–is vanishingly small. We’re on volume 547 of the United States Reports, and only a few dozen of those cases out of the Court’s two-century plus history are worth talking about for more than a few minutes. The vast majority are completely banal points of procedure and statutory interpretation. We’re talking about a few thousand controversial pages out of half a million, which by any standard is a pretty good track record. You may want to disarm the Court as a political actor–a different discussion entirely, but one which I think you’re attempting to smuggle in under other auspices–but you really do want, or at least you should want, someone to make these kinds of essential decisions with something approaching dispatch.

Furthermore, the very fact that these are federal, not state appointees, is precisely the point of the federal judiciary. The federal courts in general and the Supreme Court in particular are not and were never intended to be sensitive to state political concerns. Your proposal is not going back to the Framers’ design, debatable as that goal may be, it’s striking out in a new direction entirely. The Supreme Court is the only forum in the nation which can address legal disputes between states, and to render that court susceptible to state influence is to eliminate the possibility of a neutral forum. And there does need to be such a forum. The Framers considered a judiciary independent of both the political branches and the states to be so essential that they made it the only branch of the federal government over which the states have no input.

You should know all of this. Why you’re choosing to ignore it is a different question.

avatar Evan November 2, 2009 at 4:36 pm

Small Business Protection Act? As Russell already said: That sounds crazy. I’d be worried about environmental and safety laws, let alone the myriad of other laws designed to protect consumers from less than fatal actions. With the huge potential for damage of some of the chemicals used in industry, all it takes is one irresponsible business to destroy an ecosystem.

Lets say state laws would step in and prevent this catastrophe. If each state ends up making their own laws, companies that deal with more than a few states might find themselves in a legal nightmare of trying to meet all their requirements with their product/service, rather than just the one federal requirement they might deal with now. The other option is companies design every product to the most stringent standard that they care to sell products to. If California says Chemical X must have less than y ppm of Carcinogen Z and that’s the toughest, then the companies will all go to that standard. Of course, only states with a consumer purchasing power the size of California will end up mattering, as companies might just choose not to sell a product in Wyoming if their requirements are harder to meet.

Often one authority, despite their flaws, is better than 50 each with plenty of flaws all their own.

avatar Caleb Stegall November 2, 2009 at 6:02 pm

Some random replies:

I’m fine with discussions of limiting judicial review, but it’s a non-starter as a political platform. Of course all of these are pretty radical, but I am assuming a starting position of a populace rearing for some radical change … obviously as long as things putter along in a humdrum way, nothing much will change.

Kansas has a balanced budget law.

I like #9.

Yes, the point is the end the fiction at least where speech is concerned that a corporate entity is a person. I’m for unlimited free speech for biological persons and end direct corporate influence on elections/legislation by restricting lobbying and campaign spending to only spending by real persons.

The problems of the small business protection act are not nearly so ominous as the commenters suppose.

Every law has loopholes and is subject to abuse. Current legal procedures already exist and are adequate to deal with those things.

Yes, it would be better to repeal the 17th Amendment, but I am considering that impossible and think the idea of a State’s Veto could have political cache.

I am trying to imagine a Bolingbroke-esque political platform that could capture the growing anger, etc., of the teapartyers, such that it could actually propell a new group of political players onto the national scene and have the potential to amass and weild actual power.

I went to law school? Who knew.

avatar John Médaille November 2, 2009 at 10:04 pm

1. Effective, a TRI-cameral legislature. Not sure that’s an improvement. Better would be to repeal the 17th Amendment.

2. A fifty-judge court? Wow.

3. So no borrowing for capital projects? Or wars?

4. I know too many small businesses to agree to this. Besides, it would just mean the corporations farm out the worst part of their work to satellites, which, come to think of it, is pretty much what they do anyway.

5. You might want to look more critically at the so-called “fair” tax. My critique is at http://distributism.blogspot.com/2007/12/fair-tax-fraud.html and http://distributism.blogspot.com/2007/12/more-on-huckabee-hoax.html

6. Why wouldn’t the corporations just increase salaries with the understanding that the money would go certain places?

Two things, I think, would do more than anything else: ending income tax (which migrates fiscal power to the federal gov’t) and ending fractional reserve banking.

avatar Bob Cheeks November 3, 2009 at 6:49 am

Caleb’s ideas and suggestions all deserve our close attention. He illustrates a rare understanding of the current political crisis when he writes: “Tactically speaking, the Front Porch Agenda should look to winning governor’s mansions as the only remaining legitimate means of challenging the dominion of the federal beast. The states must live again as politically sovereign jurisdictions.”
He is in fact purposing the reintroduction of those concepts (states rights, nullification, and….) that are the most effective means of countering the transgressions of the consolidating forces of the central gummint. It is an interesting point, at least historically, that at this hour of our failing national gummint we are looking back to those elements of republicanism instituted by the founding generation, the greatest generation of Americans, to save us from the excesses, corruptions, and failings of corporatist-socialist statism.
I would add one more point to Caleb’s list: A call for a convention of the people in each state.

The primary problem facing us is that far too many of our people have no knowledge of republicanism. Far too many think, like the two young ladies in Detroit, that President Obama has a “stash” and is going to give them money to pay their bills and to party! It is truly sad that millions of Americans will happily exchange their freedom and liberties for a gummint check.
As a republican who takes his political philosophy straight I might fuss with Caleb about a couple of his points, but it wouldn’t be much of an argument. What really concerns me, is how in heaven’s name are we to instill in the American people that love of liberty experienced by our forebearers?

avatar Caleb Stegall November 3, 2009 at 7:26 am

Bob has understood me correctly.

John, you may have missed my earlier (on Deneen’s Gauntlets discussion) call to repeal the 16th and 17th Amendments. Add eliminating fiat currency and the FED and you would indeed have a powerful three point plan.

But we are in the realm of politics here, and the American people want to feel as if they are moving forward, not regressing. Repeal has no future.

The trick, the political genius necessary, is as Bob recognizes, to take the American people back to a love of liberty and a “don’t tread on me” spirit while making it seem as if this is a step forward.

avatar Lewis November 3, 2009 at 8:24 am

Repeal of the 17th has been a hobbyhorse of mine for quite some time!

avatar Micah November 3, 2009 at 9:05 am

It’s good to see some concrete suggestions. I’m wondering about the corporations. Shouldn’t an FRP agenda also include something to limit their power? We could balkanize the country, but how is that even a hiccup to the corporations. We would still be held hostage to capital flight, and colonized in our own land.

avatar Empedocles November 3, 2009 at 9:38 am

How about campaign donations can only come from individuals in the district of the candidate (or the state in case of Senatorial or Govenorship elections, or the nation in the case of the Presidency).

avatar Katharine Eastvold November 3, 2009 at 9:43 am

I would have thought that FPR types would, in general, be strong enough believers in human depravity not to go for a proposal like #4. Given the choice, I’ll take a small business over a big business any day. But that doesn’t mean small businesses and their owners are infallible and can be trusted to the extent such an exemption would require. Absolute power may corrupt absolutely, but people don’t suddenly become greedy and tempted to cut corners when they hire their 251st employee.

KPE

avatar Russell Arben Fox November 3, 2009 at 10:15 am

Micah, as Caleb has said, taking on the power of corporations ultimately must come down to how they are allowed to legally define themselves. As long as we have relatively free markets, people will pool resources and investments and use them to gain advantage. The question is, how much advantage will they be allowed? Aggressive anti-monopolistic practices are vital, but they can only go so far. Changing the language of the law so corporate personhood disappears is the truly crucial step.

Well said, Katharine; I couldn’t agree more.

avatar D.W. Sabin November 3, 2009 at 10:30 am

# 9 a start, as is anything that kicks the Governors and States back into action instead of stationing themselves at the sordid Federal Teat but perhaps , to borrow an idea from ole Ed Abbey:

“They should re-institute dueling around here, it might improve manners a bit”.

After all, Burr did put that foppish little Federalist Martinet out of our misery…….Aaron’s strange maneuverings for an invasion of Mexico or a new country out past the Smokies notwithstanding.

I would enjoy the high comedy of Governors vetoing Federal actions…might actually reinvigorate local newspapers, covering the monumental nattering about that!

As to requiring reading of the bills they vote upon, that would certainly slow down the legislative process and this alone might be a benefit.

Term limits have unfortunately backfired in many places, making the various lobbyists in both the States and at the Federal Level the de-facto gatekeeper and guide through the labyrinth. Hence, the essential need to demolish the labyrinth to a scale making the need for a guide obsolete. Everyone, liberal and conservative alike these days are Wilsonites….claiming everything is so complex, we need a big active government to help us ….as though this does not make things even more complex.

avatar Albert November 3, 2009 at 10:56 am

Business regulations need not come from the federal government.

avatar Bob Cheeks November 3, 2009 at 11:04 am

“Everyone, liberal and conservative alike these days are Wilsonites…” Dude, I blew coffee outta my nose on that one!
No, not EVERYONE is a damnable Wilsonite, and you’d better be turning your acerbic sights onto the Commie-Dems running things now! Bush buried us by 1.4 Trillion and BO has us nailed at 9-13 TRILLION and about to enslave us via socialized medicine.
Kinda makes Wilson look like a piker.

avatar Eric November 3, 2009 at 12:58 pm

James Madison said, “No theoretical checks, no form of government can render us secure. To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people, is a chimerical idea.”

If we care about long-term progress toward FPR objectives, including the kinds of objectives discussed in this essay, we ought to be talking about how to promote virtue in the people, not how to improve our form of government. Apart from fundamental changes in the people (e.g. whether they depend more on community structures for their material needs or on social security checks or on multinational corporations — whether their overriding motivations are greed, laziness, and vanity or fear of God, etc., etc.), any otherwise worthy improvements in the form of government are either politically infeasible or doomed to disappear shortly after passing or doomed to being corrupted into worthlessness. The Constitution already has lots of checks and balances to protect us, but “living Constitution” interpretations have rendered them dead. Our form of government is bound to be a product of our foundations. Trying to make a bad tree produce good fruit is pretty futile.

avatar james November 3, 2009 at 1:17 pm

Since no one has brought up selective service…

I’m in favor of a draft for all major military actions! But of course, that means that we won’t be the police force of the world anymore, and the war on terrorism would be kaput.

A draft would be a VERY bad thing for me personally, but it would be a VERY effective means to curtail use of our military for foreign adventures. (Kosovo, Afganistan, Somalia, take your pick)

If the American people won’t stand for a draft, they should not be fighting the war in the first place. It leaves the “just war” argument up to the people fighting it… the lowest/broadest level of government.

I like the draft, and for very Front Porch reasons!

avatar GAS November 3, 2009 at 2:43 pm

OK, now we have some concrete ideas.

Have we moved beyond the platitudinous community hug?

To paraphrase Hillary, it takes a smart aleck.

avatar pb November 3, 2009 at 3:23 pm

A draft would be a VERY bad thing for me personally, but it would be a VERY effective means to curtail use of our military for foreign adventures. (Kosovo, Afganistan, Somalia, take your pick)

Questionable. It may lead to a president losing an election over an unpopular war, but I don’t see how it would prevent him from starting one, if he really wanted to do so.

avatar Micah November 3, 2009 at 4:43 pm

Russell – Thanks for the reply. Has corporate personhood been discussed at FPR before? If so, could some one point me in that direction? Does it primarily mean limiting corporate campaign contributions? If so, it seems to be little more than a thumb in the eye to the multinationals. Does it mean eliminating due process for corporations? I doubt it. But, if we don’t like the current legal definition, how do we want to re-define it?

It seems that FPR is concerned with how corporations treat people like machines and have no local accountability. (Perhaps I’m putting words in FPR’s mouth, and I’m probably guilty of endowing it with personhood.) In any case, if corporate personhood, or its elimination, effectively addresses these issues, could someone please spell it out a little bit?

avatar D.W. Sabin November 3, 2009 at 5:58 pm

Cheeks,
When Nixon seems quaintly principled and Wilson chaste, you know Houston Has A Problem.

pb’s notion of a Draft would certainly not go unnoticed.

I am attempting to avert my eyes from the current farrago Robert, in self defense like when you look away as a locomotive plunges off a span 90 feet in the air, trailing about 35 cars after it in a nice arc of destruction. I think Caleb is correct, we need to concentrate more upon the States and inform the Feds , in no uncertain terms that they have exceeded, by an order of magnitude, their usefulness.

As to Eric’s remarks on virtue and trees gone bad, one of the best ways to refresh an old decrepit apple is to prune the everlasting daylights out of it ..open it to the air and sunlight and remove ALL SUCKERS. It generally does not bear well for a few seasons afterwards but it will survive to bear well with the patient application of some sharpened LOPPERS. One is advised to ruthlessly remove all those aspens clogging it too, the interlocking ones Scooter wrote a poetic letter about to Judith Miller whilst she was in the hoosegow for undocumented stenography.

As to expanding the Supreme Court with an appointee from each State…me thinks not, more appointees equal more mischief and more politics and even more flights of fanciful legislating from the Federal bench

It reminds me of the time i was thinking absent-mindedly about how to deal with the entrenched lobbyists and I hit upon the idea of some public financed representatives to balance out the influence of the lobbies only to recall that we already have them and they are called the U.S. Congress. It is a shame we have to think up hybridized additions to government in order to make it palatable to the flummoxed public…..as opposed to taking a chainsaw to the place…and perhaps a nice brisk backfire to consume the accumulated debris , depriving the potential fuel from an over-weaning Federal Government .

avatar D.W. Sabin November 3, 2009 at 6:09 pm

By the way Cheeks, fair play and a sense of gentlemanly bonhomme would suggest that, at the very least, you acknowledge Mr. Medaille’s suggestion to ABOLISH THE INCOME TAX while ending the counterfeiting operation going on down in that Bunko Parlor called the FED….said operation referred to as “fractional reserve banking”.

If need be, simply state, whilst wheezily gritting your tooth:
“A good idea to abolish the income tax Mr. Medaille, you commie pinko cur dog”.
He might reply;
“You’re welcome you pond scum rabid dixiecentric revanching methane breathing bacteria.”

avatar Bob Cheeks November 3, 2009 at 7:02 pm

DW,
Averting your eyes is not always a good, or smart thing to do.
Re: Medaille, OMG, you’re right he had a good idea and I acknowledge it! However, there’s no need to get out the guitars and sing “Kumbaya!”

Also, what do you think of the idea that there’s an insufficient number of Americans who have a clue what ‘republicanism’ might possibly mean, ergo, turn out the lights the party’s over! Or, maybe we don’t need all that many Americans who have some knowledge of the principles of the first secessionists rebellion if the focus of said upheaval is defined as the Kansan DA indicated! So preach, bro, I’m looking forward to it!

avatar GAS November 4, 2009 at 1:14 am

Proposal:

Expand the Peoples House by doubling or tripling the number of seats. Districts to be drawn will be drawn by only geographic considerations and not by proportional population.

Benefits:

-Makes it more difficult for lobbyists to control legislation.
-Gives representation to specific Place and avoids the nonsense of gerrymandering
-Allows for more Citizen Legislators and makes it more difficult for the Party elites to control who will run.
-Makes it more difficult to reach a majority vote on specific legislation and thus slowing the growth of government.

avatar Sam M November 4, 2009 at 9:16 am

I share some of the concerns about the small business protection act. I think you can come up with some pretty outrageous examples of things that COULD happen. For instance, would it be legal for me to form a business in Nebraska, called “249 Mercenaries For the Enslavement of New Yorkers and Destruction of the Golden Gate Bridge”? And to work towards those ends? Or, if there were really hard times in Mississippi, and the legislature there made it legal to pirate any and all commerce heading to Arkansas, as long as the pirate businesses sent a portion of their booty to the State of Mississippi? Wouldn’t it be prudent for there to be some federal laws forbidding that kind of thing? What if, right on the border of two states, a business formed to impound the flow of a river that flowed directly into a city on the other side of the border. And the business model was to charge that city on the other side of the border $100 a gallon? And the legislature on the side with the proposed dam made no move to prevent the dam from being built?

These are obviously obnoxious examples. But I think there are clearly some federal laws that make sense.

avatar Caleb Stegall November 4, 2009 at 9:25 am

For instance, would it be legal for me to form a business in Nebraska, called “249 Mercenaries For the Enslavement of New Yorkers and Destruction of the Golden Gate Bridge”?

Quit stealing my ideas, wouldya.

avatar Marchmaine November 4, 2009 at 11:56 am

As a member of the landed gentry, I can tell you that most of the bad regulations that impact sustainable and local agriculture emanate from the State capital.

Ironically, a loophole in Fed Regs allows us menaces to society to process chickens on the property and sell directly to the consumer… oh the horror.

I know where you are coming from with regards #4, but I don’t think you have your formulation quite right.

Perhaps: All necessary regulation must be outcome based and not process based.

That is, one can only regulate the desired results and the penalties for non-compliance. How a company gets there is their own special genius.

When the regulations for processing animals (a basic human necessity) start with rules on the proper paving of the parking lot, you realize this is a naked barrier to entry masquerading as a public safety issue.

avatar E.D. Kain November 5, 2009 at 1:08 pm

I don’t think you’ve thought through the implications of these ideas nearly enough. Let’s see:

#1 – basically nationalizes governors. You’d have a bunch of governors playing national politics instead of focusing on their states. Oh boy!

#2 – again, you’d turn the Supreme Court into an even more politicized entity than it already is. Not good.

#3 – don’t we already have pay-go? Besides, they’d find ways around this no matter what we do.

#4 – that strikes me as just a tiny bit extreme, and a huge abuse loophole for all sorts of things.

#5 – I’m sorry, but the progressive tax makes a good deal more sense than a flat tax, which is really just a huge hand-out to the wealthiest Americans. I say keep progressive income taxes and lower taxes on businesses. Encourage business growth and tax the wealthy properly. They can afford it, especially if they can still run effective businesses.

#6 – I’m still working this one out. But I don’t see it as changing anything. Honestly, every attempt to regulate campaign contributions has backfired. Why wouldn’t this one?

#7 – I think we should have the right to vote people into office as many times as we damn well please.

#8 – On first blush this makes sense, but then when you actually think about it you start to see the problems with it. This would require all legislation to be very short – which would mean lots and lots of things would be left out, which would mean that bureaucrats down the line would end up writing the vast bulk of our legislation. Better to have the legislators do that, even if it means they only read summaries their staff prepares for them.

And are you serious about ending national banking? Really? Do you even have an inkling about what this would mean for investment in the poorer regions and less populated states? I’m fine with putting an end to the investment/commercial marriage of banks, but let them compete nationally. Otherwise you’re asking for monopoly and a much more difficult time for small businesses and poor people to get any sort of financial assistance.

I like the declare war bit though.

A good idea I heard at the League recently – floated by mark thompson – was to defuse the power of the Presidency by holding national elections for the Speaker of the House. That’s a quality idea. Also – more seats in the house!

avatar Seth November 5, 2009 at 11:47 pm

Re-empower the state legislatures too! They have always had a check on federal power and have not used it enough at all. Think of all the red counties in the country and then the number of FPR-minded state legislators that could be united to slay the federal behemoth.

Really, the “front porch” ought to appeal to urban neighborhoods just as much as it does to the rural.

avatar Jock Young November 6, 2009 at 6:23 pm

Your “Supreme Court Expansion Act” would seem to produce something very similar to another institution we have called the U.S. Senate (especially before 1912). We already have one of those!

avatar Kevin H November 9, 2009 at 6:17 pm

I know I am late to this post, but I think as Mr. Stegall pointed out, the real emphasis should be on the states as an alternative authority to challenge the power of the Federal government. However, our states have grown boring and similar in their laws for any number of reasons. No significant challenge to the ways of the Federal Government in terms of the way it conducts business will be recognized until there is an alternative offered from something that is actually different. Therefore, I would offer some suggestions (only theoretical in nature, but good for an exercise such as this) that could be put into place in my home state of Pennsylvania. Note that these are what I would consider conservative, but radically different from the current status quo.

1. Get rid of the corporate form (and limited liability) except in those instances specifically authorized by the General Assembly (PA’s State Legislature).

2. Permit anyone with a bachelor’s degree in the field, after a one year paid apprenticeship in the grade range, to teach in their subject area of expertise.

3. Do away with the requirements of a law degree for lawyers and instead require 5 years apprenticeship and passage of the Pennsylvania Bar exam upon affirmation by the master lawyer that the apprentice is qualified to practice and that the lawyer will employ the apprentice for at least one year.

4. Do away with the state Income tax.

5. Make gambling illegal. Do away with the PA state lottery.

6. Change election of State Senators and State Representatives. Elect two Senators per county, but increase the number permitted in the State House of Representatives.

7. Reduce statewide speed limits to 25 MPH on town roads and 40 MPH on country roads and highways.

8. Re-institute statewide sovereign immunity.

9. Transfer rights to non-renewable resources to each county. Establish elected office of a Conservatorship Committee in each county that would be tasked with proper conservation of non-renewable resources as well as allocation of profits gained in each county if such resources are to be sold.

10. Establish state subsidized liability insurance for doctors.

11. Restrict who can contribute to a political campaign to: 1. The candidate’s own funds or 2. Citizens who’s domicile is within the political boundaries of the office which is sought after.

avatar Adam B. December 9, 2009 at 7:00 pm

For real solutions to combat the federal government, short of secession, go to Georgia gubernatorial candidate Ray McBerry’s website at http://www.GeorgiaFirst.org click on States’ Rights Legislation. He has 9 or so bills that would restore state sovereignty, including arresting federal agents enforcing unconstitutional laws. He is the leader in the 2010 primary race!!!

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: