Monday, November 09, 2009

Richmond Times Dispatch- Back and Forth

My previous post- 'House Passes Anti-Ag Health Care Bill' I expanded on some comments that I had left there in response to an editorial entitled Snack Attack ( which I was in favor of).

Someone responded to my comments as follows:

"But the interpretation of law is the foundation of the constitutional system; it’s intentionally ambiguous. To have anything more authoritative in a democracy would cross the boundary of representation towards dominance. It’s not so much that collective governance plays a part, but that the part it plays is available for interpretation."


"(As a side note, there’s no empirical link between the size of a policy bill and it’s efficacy—the US Military operates with far more than 111 internal bureaucracies, to say that it should or shouldn’t require as much without citing the substance of the organizational structure means nothing.)" -R

My Response:

In fact, the constitution was never intentionally ambiguous. A few quotes from our founders and the federalist papers make it clear that the words were intentional and have specific meaning.

“With respect to the two words “general welfare,“ I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators.“ - letter to James Robertson from James Madison

Also by Madison in Federalist # 41:

“Nothing is more natural nor common than first to use a general phrase ( like common welfare) and then to explain it and qualify it by a recital of particulars.“

In Federalist # 45:

“The powers delegated by the proposed constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the state governments are numerous and indefinite.“

Thomas Jefferson also was an advocate of this position as he states in a letter to Albert Gallatin in 1817:

“Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but only those specifically enumerated.“

The idea that the constitution can have multiple or ambiguous interpretations represents a transfer of power away from the people to the jurist. It is what economist Thomas Sowell has brilliantly described as the quiet repeal of the American Revolution.
The cognitive meaning of the constitutional text should always have dominance over the arbitrary whims or diseases endemic to democratic processes.

As stated:

from Federalist # 10. Madison states:

“In the extent and proper structure of the Union, therefore, we behold a republican remedy for the diseases most incident to republican government.”

What are these diseases? Again from #10:

“A rage for paper money, for an abolition of debts, for an equal division of property, or for any other improper or wicked project”

Basically everything that has recently brought us to the point where we are today- why - because our elected leaders justify their actions by appealing to court precedents based on wild interpretations. With the courts, stripping away these protections, these diseases flourish.

You make a good point about the size of a bill and it’s efficacy. However, the relevant illustration made by me and the author is how its size seems speaks to just how disingenuous the bill is. IF providing means to purchase healthcare were really a concern, it would not require 1900 pages with provisions for vending machine regulations.

Unlike the constitution however, I belive this bill, is intentionally ambiguous. That way one can deny the existence of death panels ( or whatever topic) , but also provide the legal basis for their inception after it has been passed. It also allows for granting special privileges.

“The entire federal budget,” “can be viewed as a gigantic rent up for grabs for those who can exert the most political muscle.” ( ‘The Public Choice Revolution.‘ Regulation Magazine)

I can't wait to see if there is any followup. I expect a very sophisticated argument dismissing the importance of the Constitution, liberty, and free markets. If they can work something in about how 'industrial agriculture' is destroying the planet I would not be surprised either.

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