Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Free to Choose

Why is it a big deal to cut a few billion dollars when debt and deficit are in the trillions? Why is a government shutdown (in name only) a horrible tragedy? Why do the Republican leaders complain that they only control 1/2 of 1/3 of the government, when they are 100% in control of spending? Why does the Republican leadership pound its chest about fiscal responsibility, and then go along playing the same Washington games? How did a wuss crybaby like Boehner ever become Speaker of the House? Why does the President, making a bizarre live break-in to the 11 p.m. news, not address the nation from the Oval Office? The only way to end junky behavior, if the junky will not do it himself, is to cut him off from his junk. Our federal government needs an intervention. And that is what the Tea Party has been, regardless of the claims of the freakish left. The Tea Party wants to end the exponential growth of debt and deficit, and the inevitable taxes and government intrusion that will follow hard upon. It is not too late to put on the brakes. In their great book Free to Choose, Milton and Rose Friedman propose that a Constitutional Amendment is the best way to limit government and its spending. Here is the text of their amendment (any transcription errors are mine):
January 30, 1979 Washington, D.C.

A PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT TO LIMIT FEDERAL SPENDING Prepared by the Federal Amendment Drafting Committee W. C. Stubblebine, Chairman Convened by The National Tax Limitation Committee Wm. F Rickenbacker, Chairman; Lewis K. Uhler, President

Section 1. To protect the people against excessive governmental burdens and to promote sound fiscal and monetary policies, total outlays of the Government of the United States shall be limited.

(a) Total outlays in any fiscal year shall not increase by a percentage greater than the percentage increase in nominal gross national product in the last calendar year ending prior to the beginning of said fiscal year. Total outlays shall include budget and off-budget outlays, and include redemptions of the public debt and emergency outlays.

(b) If inflation for the last calendar year ending prior to the beginning of any fiscal year is more than three per cent, the permissible percentage increase in total outlays for that fiscal year shall be reduced by one-fourth of the excess of inflation over three per cent. Inflation shall be measured by the difference between the percentage increase in nominal gross national product and the percentage increase in real gross national product.

Section 2. When, for any fiscal year, total revenues received by the Government of the United States exceed total outlays, the surplus shall be used to reduce the public debt of the United States until such debt is eliminated.

Section 3. Following declaration of an emergency by the President, Congress may authorize, by a two-thirds vote of both houses, a specified amount of emergency outlays in excess of the limit for the current fiscal year.

Section 4. The limit on total outlays may be changed by a specified amount by a three-fourths vote of both Houses of Congress when approved by the Legislatures of a majority of the several States. The change shall become effective for the fiscal year following approval.

Section 5. For each of the first six fiscal years after the ratification of this article, total grants to States and local governments shall not be a smaller fraction of total outlays than in the three fiscal years prior to the ratification of this article. Thereafter, if grants are less than that fraction of total outlays, the limit on total outlays shall be decreased by an equivalent amount.

Section 6. The Government of the United States shall not require, directly or indirectly, that States or local governments engage in additional or expanded activities without compensation equal to the necessary additional costs.

Section 7. This article may be enforced by one or more members of the Congress in an action brought in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, and by no other persons. The action shall name as defendant the Treasurer of the United States, who shall have authority over outlays by any unit or agency of the Government of the United States when required by a court order enforcing the provisions of this article. The order of the court shall not specify the particular outlays to be made or reduced. Changes in outlays necessary to comply with the order of the court shall be made no later than the end of the third full fiscal year following the court order.

Here are some others from their book:
Congress shall make no laws abridging the freedom of sellers of goods or labor to price their products or services
Bye bye, minimum wage laws. Labor unions would have a fit over that one.
No State shall make or impose any law which shall abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to follow any occupation or profession of his choice.
Or simply,
The right of the people to buy and sell legitimate goods and services at mutually acceptable terms shall not be infringed by Congress or any of the States.

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