The Boston Tea Party was an active resistance movement by colonists in Massachusetts against the British Empire as a refusal to submit to taxation without representation. By dumping tea into the Boston Harbor, a move towards democracy was initiated which of course culminated in the independence of the United States of America. Then, things got boring…
As is customary, things took a 237-year leap, and gave us Tea-party movement of today, which as parodies go, is not quite as funny. Let us forget the racist and downright inhuman behavior that some of the tea-partyers have shown. We do want this to be a serious discussion. The Tea-partyers (let’s call them TPs) seem to want is a strict adherence to the constitution that was adopted officially in Sep 1787. Most people cried when Apple release iPhone 3GS as it made their iPhone 3G obsolete, which kinda clashes with their campy fixation with a 223-year old parchment (which actually contains a recommendation to review and revise it regularly).
Constitutions can be amended, and they should be, for no founding father, no matter how brilliant could have imagined something like Moore’s law, which pretty much dictates that processor speeds will double roughly every two years. A cursory glance at the demands of the TPs (in their Contract from America) gives us an idea of how small minds work. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for limited government. I do believe that the government is a sluggish organization, and needs to be involved in as little as possible, but the TP demands are inexplicably simplistic, and not even truly libertarian, as they claim to be.
- Protect the constitution: Require each bill to identify the specific provision of the constitution that gives Congress the power to do what the bill does. Here’s my problem with this line. First of all, someone must explain to these people that the US constitution is just like the Ten Commandments. Both were framed by people. People with their thoughts, intelligences, biases and circumstances. The constitution was framed to liberate people, while the commandments served the opposite purpose. But, why digress. As I’ve said before, if every legislative breakthrough is going to be scuttled in the name of a 200 year old document, we can forget any real progress. If an idea is too radical in the existing maelstrom, let it be put to a vote. If we vote on it, and you lose, suck it up. That’s part of being in a democracy. Sometimes you cannot get your way.
- Reject cap and trade: Stop costly new regulations that would increase unemployment, raise consumer prices, and weaken the nation’s global competitiveness with virtually no impact on global temperatures. Here, I would tend to agree. More government means more preferential access to government. No question of that. Hence, it would be agreeable to limit the hurdles to true commerce, and help make goods and services cheaper to the people. As for whether certain measures will impact global temperatures, well, I am doubtful myself. I do however, question the authority with which the TP’s have made this blanket statement.
- Demand a balanced budget: Begin the constitutional amendment process to require a balanced budget with a 2/3 majority needed for any tax-hike. Sounds good. As taxpayers, we are employers of the government (or rather the stockholders of democracy), and we have a right to see how our investment is being used. But, wait a second, constitutional amendment? So constitutions can be amended? Are the TPs flip-flopping on this one? Are they voting for amendment before they vote against it? (Kerry fans would like this one!)
- Enact fundamental tax reform: Adopt a simple and fair single-rate tax system by scrapping the internal revenue code and replacing it with one that is no longer than 4543 words: the length of the US constitution. The Obama administration (for all its flaws), has reduced the taxes of 98% of the US population. Only 12% of TPs seemed to know that. 24% actually thought their taxes increased under Obamanomics. This kind of ignorance should be criminal. If the TPs were demonstrating truly for individual liberty and loyalty to the concept of limited government, that would still be understandable. An entire quarter of this public seems to believe that their taxes have gone up and that’s what they’re fighting against. That is a contradiction to say the least. In a situation where jobs are being lost everyday, the least people can do is hear out the guy who is reducing the amount they have to spend. I do believe in libertarianism, but I might sacrifice it if my very survival was at stake. As for their arbitrary demand regarding limiting the number of words in the tax code, on another day I wouldn’t deign to respond to it. Today however…so let’s see, a simple, computing tax should be very simple. A flat rate based on income (rates reducing with increase in income) sounds good, but is it feasible? In any case, there are enough tax softwares make this job relatively easy. One doesn’t have to seek professional help.
There are many more such points which basically spell out freedom in many ways, but are giving way to jingoism and condoning racism. I do believe, that minimizing government involvement in most things reduces preferential access to government enjoyed by some people. True capitalism exists when people are allowed to buy and sell whatever they want, while being protected against fraud and trickery. Taxing them at higher rates simply because they’ve done well for themselves is a not true free-market. Having said that, when your company goes belly-up please don’t ask us for our spare change.
5 thoughts on “Contract from America”
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Compared to what I’ve been reading elsewhere, your post makes TP’s seem like reasonable people!
The problem with the TP’s is that many of them don’t know what they’re talking about, and that they’re fighting to shift financial burdens from the rich onto themselves. There are some, however, who believe in freedom and do not like nanny-states. Either way, if you discount the racist and slightly rude part of their demonstrations, some of their demands are quite justified, and everything they’re saying is permissible in a free-speech scenario. The only annoying part of this is that the USA was still a nanny-state under Bush, and I don’t remember any TP demonstrations then!
Knowing a few TP’s personally, I quite agree to your response above.
I have this to say about protecting the constitution. There are certain basics that simply can’t be changed. That’s because those basics have been arrived at after struggling and learning for hundreds of years. I’m open to amendments that more accurately reflect reality, but the basic structure shouldn’t be changed.
Even in India, the Supreme court has repeatedly upheld the “Basic Structure” doctrine. So in spite of some 75 amendments, our constitution has retained it’s fundamental nature. Now imagine what would happen if our revered politicians were to be given a free hand. In fact, they did have a free hand. Only in the last 25-30 years has the Supreme Court began to assert itself in its role as protector of the constitution.
An example. The ninth schedule which put certain laws above judicial review was overturned by the supreme court. Wasn’t that a good thing? All sorts of crap was being shoved into it (along with 69% reservations in TN).
Homosexuality was decriminalized by the Delhi HC because it went counter to the constitution. If our politicians were fully in charge, I would be terrified about the havoc they would wreak on this “piece of paper.”
Even in France, every law has to pass the “Conseil Constitutional” which determines if it violates the constitution in any way. The recent attempt by the French parliament to disconnect people from the Internet without a judicial hearing was struck down by it.
So the Constitution is a critical document. It’s not just a piece of paper – or even a “living breathing document” as our politicians claim. It’s what keeps us on track and prevent us from doing stupid things just for short term exigency.
liberalcynic: An excellent point. The laws written out in the constitution are the products of thought and reflection. Hence I share your fear of some politician manipulating them. In the US, many laws are changed slowly after some judges and juries tender verdicts which are slightly out of accordance with the law. I endorse such changes in constitutions, not those subject to whims of politicians. If I sounded flippant about the constitution (it is truly not a piece of paper), I apologize. Thanks again for visiting.