March 20, 2013

By: Kelly Diamond, Editor

One of the proposed “28th Amendments” to our Constitution attempts to make the common man equal to the politician.

Politicians manipulate the existing 27 amendments in our Constitution for the sole purpose of keeping us beneath them.  What makes anyone think a 28th amendment will equalize a damn thing?

28th Amendment to ConstitutionA plea for a new amendment to the Constitution surfaced recently which speaks to the equal application of rules and laws between politicians and the general public.  Granted the pleas and petitions for a 28th amendment are myriad if you Google it: ranging from campaign finance to the piece below, but let’s focus on this particular one:

“Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the Senators and/or Representatives; and, Congress shall make no law that applies to the Senators and/or Representatives that does not apply equally to the citizens of the United States.”

At first glance, I felt convicted to at least agree with the sentiment; but I’m always leery of more laws, even when it appears to be in good faith.  Sure as the sun comes up each morning, my initial inclinations were dashed.  My first thought was: Why do we need a law saying laws should be equally applied to all citizens regardless of political rank?!  And what politician would possibly agree to something like that?

What surrounded and ultimately pushed this particular idea forward was the iniquities in soldier compensation to that of a Federal Congressman or Senator.  (Given they are federal employees all, I fail to see where the civilian comes into play with this legislation.)  You need an affinity for the troops or soldiers in order for this particular context to hold any significance.  But fortunately, I read the proposal outside the “yellow ribbon” setting, which is why this originally appealed to me.

For a (big L) Libertarian, this sounds magnificent!  Call out those self-serving bastards!  IF this passed and were put into actual practice, imagine what comes from it:

  • Taxation would be deemed theft.  So either we can ALL rob one another, or no one robs anyone.
  • Traffic citations would be deemed extortion.  So either we can ALL extort one another, or no one extorts anyone.
  • House raids would be deemed acts of terror.  So either we can all knock some doors down, toss in some tear gas and shoot other people’s dogs… or no one can.
  • Incarcerating individuals for victimless crimes would be deemed kidnapping and abduction.
  • Sobriety and security checkpoints would be considered illegal searches.
  • Social Security would be exposed as the Ponzi scheme that it is.
  • And of course, the regulations that currently prohibit private entities from competing with government on infrastructure, security, postal delivery, firefighting, utilities would be lifted since monopolies are either illegal for EVERYONE for legal for all.

Needless to say, this gets the salivary glands working overtime for any Libertarian.  Alas, I’m not “any” Libertarian.  In fact, I’m not even a Big L Libertarian.  Malcontent with tiny legislative minarchist strides, my cynicism got the better of me.  And while the proposed amendment is easily interpreted to entail that bulleted list above with absolutely no mental acrobatics, I think it safe to say, that is NOT what they meant.  Set aside the impossibility of finding a politician who would accept such a translation, I doubt private individuals of the statist persuasion would accept it either!

First, the futility in creating yet another law meant to harness this oligarchy of tyrants is rather obvious and undeniable.  If the total disregard for the rights enumerated in our current Constitution is any indication of the fate of all future amendments, then why even bother?  My right to free speech is restricted to “free speech zones”.  Free speech amounts to nothing more than sequestered voices of dissent.  The requisite “probable cause” supposedly mitigates the potential for illegal searches.  Our person and property are routinely searched for no other reason than we happen to be at a certain place at a certain time.  By virtue of driving on X highway on a Friday night, the state can detain me and even have me perform some mild balancing act on the side of the road.  Demonstrating my physical intent to board a plane is enough to rummage through my belongings and scan my body.  What passes for “probable cause” is absurd!?  We have Constitution Free Zones!  As Stephen Hilgart pointed out in his blog not long ago: anywhere within 100 miles of a US border is a “Constitution Free Zone”.  The behaviors of the state toward “suspects” should make most parents tell their children to look under their beds before they go to sleep each night!  The right to due process is buried under piles of bodies and soaking in the blood of countless individuals… starting with Bradly Manning and Anwar al Aulaqi and his son Abdulrahman.

Here’s the real Constitutional kicker: we aren’t supposed to have a standing army in the first place!  Then again, if we’re always at war, they can’t exactly sit down, now can they?  We also didn’t so much as give a hat tip to the Constitution when it was time to go to war since none of them have been declared by Congress since World War II.  Oh, but THIS TIME, we WILL adhere to the Constitution!  Right?

The Constitutionalist – or eternal optimist – thinks we are only a law and a leader away from righting the wrongs.  Even if I believed this amendment differs from the others in that Congress would adhere to it, it scares me!  If one purpose of this amendment is to equalize the benefits of federal employees, entailed in such a thing is either the legislator take a cut in benefits OR the soldier receive more.  Given the approach of The Affordable Care Act, Congress would sooner bring everyone up to their level of benefits than cut what they receive.

Examining the budgets of individual states, their respective budgets suffer from a lifetime of benefits extended to public servants – not WHILE they work, but upon retirement.  The problems linked with bumping up soldier benefits are myriad.  It forces individuals — who oppose the seemingly eternal state of war our country partakes in — to compensate its participants even more.  Furthermore there is something about monetarily incentivizing folks to become a mercenary that makes the bile churn.  Sure some say “It’s compensation!  Not an incentive!” Really?  As if such a distinction is even possible, I’m willing to hear the argument if one actually exists.

In a real economy — not propped up by cards, and masked with smoke and mirrors — who talks about raises in compensation packages when saddled with extreme amounts of debt?  What business, who wishes to remain solvent, spends MORE on labor rather than looking for ways to decrease those costs?

Aside from the glaring “unintended consequences” and fiscal lunacy of such an endeavor, good luck with any real compliance or enforcement from the government end.  It’s all window dressing.  Sadly, the more I read, the more I see the Constitution as nothing more than a security blanket for the hoi polloi.  Night lights and stuffed animals cannot save you from your worst fears.  And neither the Constitution nor additional amendments will do anything to close the gap between us and the oligarchs, or instill some integrity of this society called “America”.  The persistence of the faithful patriot who attributes magical properties to laws such as this 28th amendment to our Constitution, is amazing and tragic all at once.