Over the years the constitution has been “improved” by a list of amendments. The purpose of this blog today is to look at some of them, and how rolling certain ones back, “restoring” the constitution, might actually be a better, and more “progressive” act than the keeping of those “progressive” amendments.
1) Roll back the 16th Amendment
The 16th amendment reads:
Passed by Congress July 2, 1909. Ratified February 3, 1913.
Note: Article I, section 9, of the Constitution was modified by amendment 16.
The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.
Rolling back the Income tax would drastically reduce the revenue and power of the Federal government. It would also remove a very regressive tax. We want to encourage people to earn money, to create more wealth. The Income tax encourages people to shelter their wealth, rather than to create it. Removing the income tax would also decrease the government’s ability to manipulate the economy by creating tax shelters and tax loopholes that favor one group over another. It would level the economic playing field for all.
For those who agree with my logic about wealth creation, but disagree with my logic about curbing the size and power of the Federal government, the logical thing is to replace the 16th amendment with a new amendment for a national sales tax, called the “Fair Tax”. The Fair Tax would tax consumption, not wealth creation, encouraging people to invest and earn more, and thus stimulate the economy. For those who complain this would unfairly burden the poor, for whom consumption of necessities is the core of their spending, the tax as written includes a refunded exemption of the tax to everyone equal to the poverty level, so that everyone’s basic necessities would be effectively untaxed.
2) Roll back the 17th Amendment
The 17th Amendment reads:
Passed by Congress May 13, 1912. Ratified April 8, 1913.
Note: Article I, section 3, of the Constitution was modified by the 17th amendment.
The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislatures.
When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.
This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the election or term of any Senator chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution.
Prior to this amendment the legislatures of each state elected the senators, while the house was elected directly. The purpose of this amendment was to take the senate out of the hands of the cronies in the states and give them to the people. But the effect has been to unbalance the power of the states and the federal government, and deprive the states of their influence over the federal government. And rather than put the senators at the access of the people, it exchange the influence of the states for those of the lobbyists in Washington. The senators have less, not more, constraints on their exercise of power.
3) Unlock the reapportionment of the House of Representatives
This suggestion isn’t as much a rollback of an amendment, as a correction of an allocation problem. The constitution requires proportional representation in the House, with each representative have an equal district by population, with the smallest allowed size being 30,000 people in a district. Back in 1911 the size of the House of Representatives got locked at 435 representatives, and the size of districts has continued to grow ever since, with each representative representing more and more people, thus growing his power base. My recommendation is to unlock this, and drastically reduce the size of districts. With a population of 300 million I propose districts of that 30,000 each, for a house size of 10,000. I also propose that we not assemble these 10,000 representatives in Washington DC, but create a virtual congress, a virtual house. Using current technology it would be very easy to connect all the representatives via secure internet connections from their homes in their districts, and all the business of congress could be convened virtually between the congressmen, while having them live among the people they represent. Another plus of this is that a dispersed congress would be a much tougher target for lobbyists to contact and entertain and feted at lavish events, etc.
Further benefit, depending on your point of view, is the possibility of smaller parties to get a representative elected. While I don’t see it drastically changing the two-party system, I see a lot of “third parties” getting the occasional candidate into the congress and requiring the main parties to address more of these issues instead of just sweeping these views under the rug.
The senate could be similarly decentralized, with similar benefits. I am sure the cost of all this would be much less than the current expenses of office buildings in the capital.