One Million Monkeys

…because 999,999 just isn't enough.

Archive for the tag “Constitution”

Thanks for nothing!

There’s been a rash of bills lately in the Missouri state legislature that have given me pause. First was a bill to allow home brewers to transport their beer away from home. The second is a proposal for a state constitutional amendment to specify that parents have a right to raise and educate their own children how they choose. The latest one I’ve read about is another constitutional amendment proposal to specify the right of farmers to employ modern farming practices.

These all seem like good ideas. What homebrewer doesn’t want to be able to take his beer to a party or share a few bottles with a friend? And what parent doesn’t want to be assured of his or her right to bring up their children without outside interference? I’m not a farmer, but if I were, it would be good to know that I was allowed to use whatever methods I thought would give me the best yields, right?

But here’s the problem: we already have these rights! They are natural rights to life, liberty, and property. While I understand the legislature’s intent in proposing these measures, by being so specific, the implication is that these rights are granted to us by the state. Rights or privileges granted by the state can be revoked at the whim of whoever is in power.

The bottom line for me is that I am entitled to use and dispose of my property however I like, so long as I am not hurting or defrauding someone else. To tell me I now have the state’s permission to bring a six-pack of beer that I made with ingredients that I bought is absurd. Similarly, if I own a piece of farmland, I shouldn’t need permission from the state or anyone else to grow what I want how I want. My right to life and liberty means that my children are my responsibility to raise and educate–to allow me to raise them in accordance with my family’s beliefs and desires makes no sense whatsoever.

Epiphany

So with all the hubbub lately about the “fiscal cliff,” sequestration, gun control, pot legalization, and gay marriage, it seems like our ideas on how the country should operate are pretty varied, to say the least. While ruminating on these issues and wondering how we will last with all of this discord in our political system, I have some suggestions for how we can all get along.

What if, instead of a centralized government calling all the shots for everyone, we divided the US up into smaller geographic areas, and allowed each of these areas to govern themselves? Each of these areas, let’s call them “states,” could decide for themselves whether they wanted to allow people to smoke pot or marry someone the same gender as themselves. They could also decide if they wanted to subsidize farmers or punish people for being rich, or whatever the people of that state thought was best. Suppose we had maybe 50 of these states. Imagine the variety we could have in government. And if you didn’t like the laws and rules in one state, you would be free to move to another state. One state might tax everyone and everything so they can give free money away (until the obvious limit is reached when there’s no one left actually earning anything to tax) and tell hapless residents what they can and cannot eat, drink, or smoke–we could call this state “Illinois,” which means “land of incarcerated governors.” Another state might allow people to pretty much live however they like and trust people to make their own decisions and live with the rewards or consequences. This one would be called…well, we’ll think of a name for this one.

However, we would still need some sort of limited national government to see to national level functions like international diplomacy and defense. We could draft some sort of overarching document that would define the structure, responsibilities, and limitations of this central government. We would state explicitly in this document that any power not specifically assigned to the central government would remain a power of the states, or even the people themselves. We should also clearly define the natural rights that we each have, and commit the central government to protecting those rights from encroachment.

The more I think about it, the more brilliant this whole idea seems. I don’t know why no one thought of this before.

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