April 5, 2010

Doctor Zero and Patient Zero

Over at Hot Air, Doctor Zero has a great post about the Parable of the Referee.  (Not to toot my own horn, I posted something similar last year and this year. Okay, maybe it's a little bit to toot my own horn.) But I'd like to delve a little further into something he wrote near the end of his essay.

To be trusted with such power and resources, the State must practice strict adherence to a basic set of laws which constrain its behavior, and which it cannot easily disregard or change. The rulebook for the American game is her Constitution. Fidelity to those rules would produce a small State with less influence to satisfy the appetite of hyper-competitive players who wish to cheat at the game… or its own appetite for purchasing votes and imposing its ideas of “fairness.” Disdain for the Constitution has led us to the present spectacle of referees who outnumber the players, unemployed players sitting dejectedly on the sidelines, and a dwindling number of investors willing to bet on a rigged game that will be decided by the whims of the officials.
The idea of a large, and yet scrupulously honest State is fraudulent to its core. As the State expands in size, it inevitably develops interests that lead to corruption. 

Doctor Zero rightly points out the Constitution is of paramount importance, it is, in essence, Patient Zero. The point to be made is this, the rulebook of the game, the Constitution, despite being the rulebook, is not being followed, and the reason is that the rulebook itself, has left a loophole.  

The Constitution thankfully, protects itself from Amendment by whim.  Getting an Amendment into the Constitution is virtually impossible. The last was in 1992, and the last meaningful one (or seemingly meaningful) to date, was the 22nd which was enacted in 1951. Today, Amendments seemingly are impossible given the amount of across the board approval needed.  That's a good thing.  But I mentioned that there was a loophole.

The government cannot legislate effectively without being allowed to pass laws.  While the Constitution indicates what sort of laws are allowed to be passed by Congress, it does not stipulate the amount of laws that can be passed.  Nor should it. If the government could only pass 1,000 laws, it would be quite limited in operational effectiveness. That governmental operational effectiveness is an oxymoron is of no import. As a body, they need to be able to ensure that laws govern and protect the rights of the public in areas that didn't exist at the time of the framers' creation of the Constitution.  So new laws will always be required.

Perhaps what we should be looking at instead is not how many laws the government passes in it's zealotry to impose an unfair fairness. Instead the nature of the laws should come under scrutiny.  If laws are passed to protect people's rights to be free from imposed upon, then they might be written more intelligently than what has been seen lately.  Indeed, the new health care with its mandates, would not and could not have been passed.

President Obama has said in the past that he deemed the Constitution as a bill of negative rights.  In other words he saw it as not promising people new rights but preventing government from abridging existing rights.  Sadly, he saw that as a flaw.  That, more than not wearing a flag pin, or whom he associates with indicates a true disdain for the Constitution and by proxy the country.  Inventing new rights is not the job of government. Those inalienable rights of life liberty and the pursuit of happiness pretty much cover everything. Health care is not a prerequisite to life more so than food or shelter. So why is it being treated like one? 

Indeed Obama's comments indicated a misunderstanding of why the Constitution was framed the way it was.  People need protection from the government MORE than they need protection from each other.  That is not to say that laws are not needed to prevent businesses and people of taking unfair advantage of each other.  The referee analogy holds true. But the over-riding concern, one that has to be re-built into the legislative process, is to ensure that the Congress does not over-extend its own reach in an effort to nanny-state the public into submission, and in the process ride roughshod over the Constitution.  Patient Zero is being given medicine that is not helping it, but in fact destroying its health.  With all the anesthesia being applied, not enough people seem to be noticing.

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