Friday, June 27, 2014

The Liberty Amendments by Mark Levin

I looked forward to reading The Liberty Amendments by Mark R. Levin as soon as I heard about it. Mark Levin is a much better writer than ranter and I always enjoy his insight and historical knowledge. The Liberty Amendments did not disappoint.

Although each subsequent chapter details one or more of Constitutional amendments he proposes, the first chapter discusses the “why?” He opens with, “I undertook this project not because I believe the Constitution, as originally structured, is outdated and outmoded, thereby requiring modernization through amendments, but because of the opposite -- that is, the necessity and urgency of restoring constitutional republicanism and preserving the civil society from the growing authoritarianism of a federal Leviathan.” Our country is at a crossroads. Do we continue down the statists’ desired path of “post-Constitutional soft tyranny”, or do we return our country to its liberty-loving root?

Our federal government currently controls, bans or regulates almost everything we come in contact with on a daily basis. It is hard to think of any area that its tentacles do not breach. Which is why our Founders gave us Article V. We the people have the ability to stop the federal government in its tracks if we will but exercise our power. Article V gives states the right to propose and vote on Constitutional amendments, thereby passing over Congress in order to enact the true will of the people. We have never used this process, but Mark Levin thinks it’s time!

Number One: Term Limits for Members of Congress
We have an “increasingly insulated class of governing masterminds who use lawmaking and the public purse to empower themselves.” Time for them to go, by force if necessary. 

Number Two: Repeal the 17th Amendment
The purpose of the Senate, as originally envisioned, was to provide the states with a co-equal status with each other in the national government. This was clearly understood at the time and no one questioned the wisdom of having state legislatures choose their own representative. It would give the United States a truly Federal composition. As such, the Senators were to represent state interests and keep the national government from intruding into the spheres properly reserved to the states. No longer. States now have no representation and the results have been disastrous. No one is there to defend the 10th Amendment and by extension, those rights reserved to the people. That is why the national government can touch everything. Who will stop it?

Number Three: Term Limits for Supreme Court Justices and Super-Majority Legislative Override
This is an idea whose time has truly come! Since Marbury vs. Madison, the Supreme Court has usurped authority never granted to it by the Constitution. And who decides what power the Supreme Court has? The Supreme Court. Nice. It has become a wholly totalitarian entity exercising judicial, legislative and executive authority. Jefferson, himself recognized the danger inherent in letting the Supreme Court decide Constitutionality, because it destroyed the checks and balances written into the Constitution. This innovative amendment would at least give the Legislature an opportunity to override the most egregious decisions. 

Number Four and Five: Limits to Federal Spending and Taxing
The amendment on spending is in effect a balanced budget amendment, with some sharp enforcement mechanisms as well providing a ceiling of 17.5% GDP for all outlays. YES! (I’d lower it to 10%. It’s good enough for God. But I’ll take 17.5%.) The taxing amendment limits all taxes to a total of 15% of income and forbids any other form of taxation. This is problematic if a national sales tax is ever desired rather than the destructive income tax. That said, it is a step in the right direction. Together these amendments severely limit the ability of Congress to tax and spend our country into oblivion. Jefferson understood that a Legislative body that could tax and spend at will could do anything they wanted and run roughshod over the Constitution. 

Number Six: Limits on the Federal Bureaucracy
This one may be my favorite. “All federal departments and agencies shall expire if said departments and agencies are not individually reauthorized in stand-alone reauthorization bills every three years...” It makes me happy just to think about the opportunity every three years to shut down the EPA or HHS or Department of Education. They are also required to justify any regulation which creates a burden over $100 million, which a panel within the Legislature can vote to pass. Without their vote, it falls! Wow! Can you imagine?!? Personally, I would add that any economic damage caused by a regulation must be paid for out of the budget of the regulating agency. If our betters believe we need to add straps to hold down our water heaters in case of an earth quake, let them pay for it. I definitely think it would make them think very hard about what regulations are absolutely necessary! Once again, we have a tyrant in the form of these agencies because they encompass judicial, executive and legislative functions. Death to tyrants!

Number Seven: Promote Free Enterprise
The federal government has far exceeded its authority to regulate interstate commerce. This amendment would restore that limitation in definitive terms. The federal government would ONLY have the power to prevent states from not engaging in commerce with each other. It cannot regulate it or manipulate it or coerce it - only encourage it. The commerce clause was NEVER intended to impede free trade. That would be an anathema to a young country desperately in need of a robust economy.

Number Eight: Protection of Private Property
Too much value in our property is stolen by the federal government. Not through outright taking, but through regulating. This amendment would reimburse any time of market devaluation exceeding $10,000. I think that’s too high, I think EVERY expense due to regulation should be reimbursed, but I’ll take it. Our Founders recognized that only strong property rights would prevent the poor from stealing from the rich, legislatively. That is exactly what we have today.

Number Nine: Granting States Authority to Directly Amend the Constitution
This would rework Article V to make it easier for states to reassert their authority within the federal government. Currently the amendment process has proven so difficult, we’ve only done it 27 times, including the Bill of Rights. Therefore, courts and legislators have just jumped over the Constitution and done whatever they wanted to. If the amendment process were a little easier, perhaps the people would demand an amendment when an unConstitution matter is proposed. And Congress would be bypassed all together.

Number Ten: States Have the Authority to Check Congress
This innovative amendment would give state legislatures (with a 3/5 majority) the ability to veto federal statues and regulations. Great! This puts our legislative and regulatory bills back in the hands of the people. We could put pressure on our state legislatures to veto something the people are radically against but which an untouchable Congress or unelected bureaucrat will not agree to stop. What a wonderful way to localize national issues.

Number Eleven: Protect the Vote
Voter ID. Why not? 

It’s time to take back our country from the politicians and regulators. The statists have built a nation of oligarchs who are largely unaffected by elections. This is not the system our Founders gave us. It is our inheritance from the presidency of FDR who altered the very character of our Constitutional system. It’s time to stop being governed by the whims of dead people and return to the solid PRINCIPLES of our Founders. 

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