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I believe that a local fire department should be provided for. While not really a right, it's an institution that has been very effective, and hasn't seemed to grow too much or consume too many resources (at least in America).
The same can be said about a train, bus station or airport. Also grocery stores and gas stations. And shoe stores. You need to think about what the proper function of government is.
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I was unaware of the existence of privately owned fire stations at all, so thanks for filling me in on that. And I do realize that protecting men from nature is not the proper function of government, but I was under the impression that public fire stations were the only option and they do seem to work very efficiently, so I asked.

Now that I think about it, private fireman might be a fun job when I grow up. :)

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I think that the republican principle and the vital role of intellectuals in society should be melded in the composition of the upper house of the legislatures in the United States; that in the modern era, intellectual qualifications include earning a Doctor of Philosophy degree (that just means a Ph.D. in some field, not necessarily in the field of philosophy); that federal senators, at least, should be appointed (i.e. repeal the 17th amendment).

From Article I -

The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each state, chosen by the legislature thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote.

No person shall be a Senator who shall not have earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree according to law, attained to the age of thirty years, and been nine years a citizen of the United States and who shall not, when elected, be an inhabitant of that state for which he shall be chosen.

No person shall be a member of the senate, if any, of a state legislature who shall not have earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree according to law.

Edited by Seeker
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How would anti-fraud laws be possible given this separation?

How about court enforced tort damages for breach of contract. That is clearly an interaction between government and commerce.

Bob Kolker

That is a matter of law, not as is the norm today a matter of political expediency or need. If the government (through courts) charges a thief and imprisons him for his crime would you claim that it is unduly restricting his life and liberty?

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I think that the republican principle and the vital role of intellectuals in society should be melded in the composition of the upper house of the legislatures in the United States; that in the modern era, intellectual qualifications include earning a Doctor of Philosophy degree (that just means a Ph.D. in some field, not necessarily in the field of philosophy); that federal senators, at least, should be appointed (i.e. repeal the 17th amendment).

From Article I -

The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each state, chosen by the legislature thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote.

No person shall be a Senator who shall not have earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree according to law, attained to the age of thirty years, and been nine years a citizen of the United States and who shall not, when elected, be an inhabitant of that state for which he shall be chosen.

No person shall be a member of the senate, if any, of a state legislature who shall not have earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree according to law.

This is a terrible idea. First, you constitutionally institute a certain system of education. It's one thing to deal with a person's age, but educational degrees require educational standards defined by educational institutions.

Second, my observations of politics show that there are many more problems coming from those that are educated than those who are not. Consider this: is a productive person in a given field more likely to work productively in that field after college, or remain in academy buying favors and pandering to popular theories? Who is more likely to have greater virtue - and an understanding of how people actually work and live in the productive sectors of society?

Our current non-PhD Senate was very effective at passing PhD Christina Romer's massively fraudulent and misguided $800 billion stimulus bill.

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This is a terrible idea. First, you constitutionally institute a certain system of education. It's one thing to deal with a person's age, but educational degrees require educational standards defined by educational institutions.

Second, my observations of politics show that there are many more problems coming from those that are educated than those who are not. Consider this: is a productive person in a given field more likely to work productively in that field after college, or remain in academy buying favors and pandering to popular theories? Who is more likely to have greater virtue - and an understanding of how people actually work and live in the productive sectors of society?

Our current non-PhD Senate was very effective at passing PhD Christina Romer's massively fraudulent and misguided $800 billion stimulus bill.

On the first point, I think that requiring academic credentials is one way to identify the class of citizen that we would call "intellectual". What we really mean are professionals in the humanities. How else could one legally define "intellectual"?

On the second point: I wholeheartedly agree that such a requirement would be grossly counterproductive given the philosophy of today's intellectuals (so much so that I advocate for the existence of popular referenda until the intellectuals are set in a more rational direction). Observations of contemporary politics will simply confirm that point, which I readily concede. In a rational society, however, it will not be the case that "there are many more problems coming from those that are educated than those who are not". To the contrary, the better educated could be expected to lead society in a positive direction.

Edited by Seeker
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On the first point, I think that requiring academic credentials is one way to identify the class of citizen that we would call "intellectual". What we really mean are professionals in the humanities. How else could one legally define "intellectual"?

On the second point: I wholeheartedly agree that such a requirement would be grossly counterproductive given the philosophy of today's intellectuals (so much so that I advocate for the existence of popular referenda until the intellectuals are set in a more rational direction). Observations of contemporary politics will simply confirm that point, which I readily concede. In a rational society, however, it will not be the case that "there are many more problems coming from those that are educated than those who are not". To the contrary, the better educated could be expected to lead society in a positive direction.

I see your point, but I disagree for at least two clear reasons. First, the government is not an agent to lead society. The government is a foundation that preserves fundamentals. Society is led by intellectuals, industrialists, and artists. Government follows.

The reason why that works is my second point. Government agents can appeal to the advice of intellectuals and comprehend it without being highly trained and specialized in a field such as a PhD. Imposing that constraint on potential representatives is unecessarily limiting, and will create an intrisic bias in the legislatures.

In a rational society, we won't need PhD's to lead us in government. They'll be leading us in the places that really matter, and we'll know whom to follow.

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I see your point, but I disagree for at least two clear reasons. First, the government is not an agent to lead society. The government is a foundation that preserves fundamentals. Society is led by intellectuals, industrialists, and artists. Government follows.

The reason why that works is my second point. Government agents can appeal to the advice of intellectuals and comprehend it without being highly trained and specialized in a field such as a PhD. Imposing that constraint on potential representatives is unecessarily limiting, and will create an intrisic bias in the legislatures.

In a rational society, we won't need PhD's to lead us in government. They'll be leading us in the places that really matter, and we'll know whom to follow.

On the first point, I didn't say that "government is an agent to lead society". I said (defending against the charge that "there are many more problems coming from those that are educated than those who are not") that the intellectuals in a rational society could be expected to lead it - including its government - in a positive direction.

On the second point, I agree that staffing the Senate with intellectuals is not a primary requirement of political philosophy, and your explication correctly reflects the basic Objectivist position regarding the primary political role of intellectuals (i.e. to advise politicians). AFAIK, however, Objectivism does not say that intellectuals cannot have a formal agency in the government vis-a-vis the popularly elected branch in recognition of their crucial place in guiding the political sphere and the need to check the popular will from time to time.

As far as whether it would create an intrinsic bias, I'm not at all sure what bias you envision -- presumably, a bias towards the intellect would be an unmitigated good. But let's suppose that there is something about the intellectuals that engenders them towards a peculiar kind of error special to them. In such case the concern would be obviated by the check of the popularly elected branch, namely the House of Representatives.

The best argument against this idea might be the possibility of the intellectuals falling into major philosophic error, i.e. a return to today. As I already stated, this proposal would be counterproductive under such conditions. So I will stipulate that it makes sense only insofar as the rationality of the chosen intellectuals is beyond reproach.

Edited by Seeker
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I think that the republican principle and the vital role of intellectuals in society should be melded in the composition of the upper house of the legislatures in the United States; that in the modern era, intellectual qualifications include earning a Doctor of Philosophy degree (that just means a Ph.D. in some field, not necessarily in the field of philosophy); that federal senators, at least, should be appointed (i.e. repeal the 17th amendment).

From Article I -

The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each state, chosen by the legislature thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote.

No person shall be a Senator who shall not have earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree according to law, attained to the age of thirty years, and been nine years a citizen of the United States and who shall not, when elected, be an inhabitant of that state for which he shall be chosen.

No person shall be a member of the senate, if any, of a state legislature who shall not have earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree according to law.

This directly leads to the government deciding what the requirements of a Doctor of Philosophy are. This in turn will establish a mandated education standard, something I'd hoped we were trying to eliminate. I'm fine with the time restraint due to new citizenship, but the new requirement for having a PhD seems arbitrary.

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Great start guys!

I have a few suggestions:

1) The Tax Rate

Earlier there was a suggestion to limit the taxation rate in the constitution at a specific percentage. I agree with this, but I would take this a step further and say that the taxation rate should also not exceed a specific dollar amount. In order to fluctuate with the increase in population and with the growth of wealth, this amount should not be explicitly stated in the constitution as a number, but instead it should be devised as a formula to be calculated and pronounced yearly or every decade.

My idea for this amount would be to take a government estimate or tally of the average yearly income of a citizen, and to limit the amount at a percentage of that amount. We'll call this the explicit income ceiling, because it is an amount of income determined explicitly (yearly, or every decade, or whatever) that caps the amount that you can be taxed.

For example, say that the maximum taxation rate in the constitution was 20% (for the sake of this example). Then say that the current income tax rate was set at 10%. This is a valid rate because it isn't greater than 20%. Now say that the constitution also limits the rate determining the "explicit ceiling" amount to this same 20% value, however, it allows the rate to be lower than that 20%. So let's say that it has been set at 15%.

So, in this hypothetical:

The income tax maximum is 20%

The explicit income ceiling maximum is also 20%

These two values are in the constitution and are permanent.

The income tax rate for ALL people is currently 10%

The explicit income ceiling for ALL people is currently 15%

Let's say:

That the average yearly income is $30,000.

Peter made $15,000 this year. 10% of $15,000 is $1,500. 15% of $30,000 is $4,500. Peter pays $1,500.

Paul made $1,000,000 this year. 10% of $1,000,000 is $100,000. 15% of $30,000 is still $4,500. Paul pays $4,500.

Mary made exactly $30,000 this year. 10% of $30,000 is $3,000. 15% of $30,000 is again $4,500. Mary pays $3,000.

Let's say that after a year of inflation, everyone's wallet has been flooded with dollars that are now worth half as much as before.

The average yearly income increased to $60,000 (due to inflation this is worth as much as before)

Peter made $30,000. He pays $3,000 (the same value as the year before)

Paul made $2,000,000. He pays $9,000 (the same value as the year before)

Mary made $60,000. She pays $6,000 (again, the same value as the year before)

In this way the explicit taxable income ceiling always adjusts for inflation or deflation, whereas specifying a dollar amount in the constitution would not.

This system would definitely favor the rich and because of the elimination of tax brackets there is no discrimination against them. As the average yearly income in America increases, so does the amount of the explicit taxable income. This would encourage people to become rich, however it might also encourage the rich to keep the poor and middle class from raising the average yearly income. This is an interesting problem, but it may perhaps be solved by instead setting the explicit taxable income to a value in the constitution and to always adjust it year to year based on a government calculation of inflation.

2) The Voting System

I've always thought that the voting system in the United States is entirely too simple. I also think it promotes the two party system, blocking out all 3rd party candidates.

For presidential and legislative votes held by the public, I would suggest something like ranked ballots. You can do a ranked ballot several ways, but the main point is that if your primary choice is extremely unpopular and it is as if you've wasted your vote, you will still have an impact on the vote by the way you ranked your other choices. This basically means you get more than one vote. Whether or not those votes are worth the same or if your primary vote is worth more than your secondary vote or if you get 3 or more votes all depends on the type of ranked ballot.

Look ranked ballots (also called "preferential voting") up on wikipedia for a more thorough explanation. Currently, the "one vote" system that we have is definitely the simplest, but it causes a lot of untold problems (chief among them is the two party system). There are TONS of voting systems, such as preferential voting, or instant-runoff voting. One of the biggest goals should be to decrease the effects of gerrymandering and to decrease "wasted-votes". The only problem may be the introduction of "tactical voting".

3) The Money Problem

Who should print the money? Is money going to be backed by anything (such as a metal, or a commodities market, or something else). Is money printed by the government, or are separate currencies allowed (such as private bank notes)?

My personal take on this would be to have the government print the common currency. I have no rational opinion about backing it with something or having it be just be worth the paper it's printed on.

In addition, the major change I would make is to allow private currencies that can be used as cash. The government should only accept the common currency for taxes and fees, however business should not be required to accept the common currency, or required to pay their employees in the common currency. I'm sure the free market will provide for currency conversions.

Something needs to be done about the Federal Reserve problem, but that can be left to someone else to debate. The common currency should definitely be printed by a government agency and not by a private organization.

4) The Corporation Entities

Legally, corporations need to be considered as groups of individuals instead of large entities. Currently, the government treats corporations as people, with rights. Corporations don't have any rights, just the individuals they are composed of. This has allowed them to abuse the system in different ways, and in-turn be abused. I would imagine some of you would think that they should be treated like people as this affords them benefits and you might think this promotes the activities of a free-market, but I disagree. It is simply not true that they are individual entities. The individuals they are composed of must be held accountable for their individual actions. The biggest benefit that this bestows on them is the elimination of corporate taxation. In effect, all businesses would be considered groups of contract workers by the state, instead of being employees of a specific company. This would be a part of the separation of the economy and the state, since the government would also never be able to mandate a minimum wage, health benefits or anything else. But this also means that a corporation as a whole cannot be sued, only the responsible parts of it. For instance, a patient would sue an individual doctor instead of the hospital he works for. To entice skilled doctors to work for them, however, the hospital may have made a deal to absorb most, if not all, lawsuit damages.

5) The Incumbents

I agree with limiting the number of terms of ALL elected officials to a maximum of 2 or 3 non-consecutive terms.

I would venture to add that in a time of war, the incumbent president may be re-elected for his second (or third) consecutive term. This way, a war-time president can stay in office if the people think he is handling the situation adequately. This limits the damage a new president can cause during the transition period. An argument against this suggestion would be that presidents would start wars just so that they could stay in office for consecutive terms, which would be very bad.

6) On Legislation

In order to prevent legislation without representation, require that the congressmen has read the bill he is voting on and that it was written by the hand of an elected congressmen (not an aide). In addition, the bill to be voted on must be read in front of the legislative body after a vote is called, but before the vote is performed. Also, all legislation must be released for public review for at least a set amount of time (equal to or greater than the amount of time needed to read and analyze the bill) before a vote can be called, and if it is changed after it is released then it must be released again. This basically boils down to requiring congress to release a bill they are going to vote on so that the news stations can get a hold of it and publicly criticize everything that's wrong with it.

Each piece of legislation should also require the appropriate passages in the constitution that provide the powers that are used in the bill. This will help cut down on unconstitutional garbage getting through, in addition the above paragraph about releasing the bill provides that this constitutionality statement is checked against the facts in the bill.

Lastly, the bills should have a title that accurately represents their contents and they should be limited to one subject at a time. Therefore no large stimulus bill could ever be enacted that has such varying consequences as bridge building in one state and an housing project in another. This would basically stop congress from adding pork to their bills. If not enough congressmen want a bill, then this should stop them from compromising. Also, the "Patriot Act" and "The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act" would be good examples of names that do not accurately reflect the nature of the bill. The name of a bill should not be misleading.

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This directly leads to the government deciding what the requirements of a Doctor of Philosophy are.

It directly leads to the government deciding what the PhD requirements for being a Senator are. People who earn PhD's in a different way would still have their PhD's, they simply couldn't serve as Senators. And the task of putting the details of that qualification into objective law would be a matter for legislators and no different than their task of writing objective laws in other spheres, once the constitutional requirement is set. The better argument, I think, is over whether it ought to be a constitutional requirement in the first place. I am certainly not wedded to the idea, but I did find the notion of an upper house staffed with intellectuals sufficiently intriguing that it merited discussion at least. If one can say as a matter of objective philosophy that professionals in the humanities have a special role in leading society, then one ought to be able to define precisely who those professionals are by some objective criteria. To me, that is the far more interesting question: who are the intellectuals, and how do we know it?

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Of course there's no guarantee that they wouldn't all be asshat leftist intellectuals, more than likely educated beyond their actual capacities for rational thought--they use the fancy words to parrot shibboleths they never learned how to question or analyze. In fact, as things sit today that'd be the most likely outcome.

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Of course there's no guarantee that they wouldn't all be asshat leftist intellectuals, more than likely educated beyond their actual capacities for rational thought--they use the fancy words to parrot shibboleths they never learned how to question or analyze. In fact, as things sit today that'd be the most likely outcome.

Yes, I agree. Today, the word "intellectual" is associated with the "leftist nut-bag".

I'd be ok with requiring the newly elected congressmen to swear that he will defend capitalism and champion small government. I doubt that oath would act as a security to our rights, however.

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Yes, I agree. Today, the word "intellectual" is associated with the "leftist nut-bag".

I'd be ok with requiring the newly elected congressmen to swear that he will defend capitalism and champion small government. I doubt that oath would act as a security to our rights, however.

Nope. It wouldn't and if anyone else reading that doubts that, look at how routinely the US congress and president, all sworn to uphold the constitution, violate it. Of course if you were actually able to challenge them on it they'd deny it--it would turn out that they are *extremely* loose constructionists. And one would run into the same problem with "defend capitalism"--most people today mistake our mixed-economy for "capitalism" (which has the "convenient" side effect of allowing "capitalism" to be blamed when state interventions cause a problem). Similarly "small government" is in the eye of the beholder. If the prospective oath were to (say) "limit government's role to the protection of rights", well, we all know we have a right to healthcare, right? NO oath is immune to someone violating it, and justifying the violation because they stretch the meaning of its words past what we here on OO net would consider the breaking point.

(edit: clarified last sentence)

Edited by Steve D'Ippolito
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That's very true Steve. It would be great if we could have a cyclical mechanism in the constitution that resets it to the ground floor, wiping away both good and bad amendments and alterations. Kind of like the sunset provisions, except for all of the government, all at once. What if we added in the provision that every one hundred years the citizens vote in a referendum to either renew the current version of the constitution, complete with all legal codes and written law accumulated over the past hundred years. If the referendum fails, then there is a run-off vote to determine if the constitution and all laws in the federal system should be reset to the original "clean-slate" or if there should be a legally sanctioned dissolution of the government. This would prompt a periodic reassessment of the state of the nation. In the event of a dissolution, the right to keep and bear arms would allow the people to take down a government that might very well resist its demise.

If the government states that the centennial referendum, which voted to dissolve the current state, does not take action towards dissolution, then one or two groups of maybe only a few citizens will take action, since they are legally not under the rule of that government anymore. This should be sufficient to empower more people to act and will eventually lead to the (hopefully) complete dissolution of the former government, complete with this constitution. This anarchy, I believe, will balance totalitarianism. I hate anarchy as much as I hate authoritarianism, however, I believe the mere threat that the people could bring the whole corrupt system down will force the hand in situations where leaders may lead the country closer to statism.

In addition, if the referendum to renew the current constitution and current laws fails, but the "clean slate" run-off vote succeeds, the country can then immediately rewrite and re-instate the old ideas that are deemed necessary. For instance, after one hundred years of this constitution being instituted, the congress had eventually accumulated many laws. For this hypothetical, suppose two of these laws were one that established an oversight committee for the department of transportation, while the other law explicitly protected people from unlawful government tracking implants. Well obviously, in a hundred years, everyone is zipping around in flying cars, so the oversight committee as well as the department of transportation don't need to be reimplemented, and doing so would be archaic and useless. However, the idea that there needs to be protection against unlawful government tracking implants will most assuredly be reinstated, in some way. This would be a fundamental change to the way that constitutions work and would act as a protection to accumulated corruption.

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What if we added in the provision that every one hundred years the citizens vote in a referendum to either renew the current version of the constitution, complete with all legal codes and written law accumulated over the past hundred years.
That would be analogous to saying that all scientific results must be re-proven every 100 years, or thrown in the trash and we start again with Babylonian/Egyptian science. Knowledge is cumulative, and the reason why our advanced civilization is possible is that we are not limited to what we can directly validate in one lifetime.

Law is a form of moral knowledge. Attention should be focused on the process of validly creating such knowledge, just as attention should be focused on the process of validly creating scientific knowledge. A systematic destruction of the foundations of society and hope for an improved phoenix rising from the ashes will not lead to good law, it will lead to bad -- unstable and populist -- law.

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That would be analogous to saying that all scientific results must be re-proven every 100 years, or thrown in the trash and we start again with Babylonian/Egyptian science. Knowledge is cumulative, and the reason why our advanced civilization is possible is that we are not limited to what we can directly validate in one lifetime.

Law is a form of moral knowledge. Attention should be focused on the process of validly creating such knowledge, just as attention should be focused on the process of validly creating scientific knowledge. A systematic destruction of the foundations of society and hope for an improved phoenix rising from the ashes will not lead to good law, it will lead to bad -- unstable and populist -- law.

I don't think the situations are analogous. Good governing will not be re-proven every 100 years, because even if the population votes that their government has become so corrupted that they need to start over from the original foundations of the government, they will still have the basic rules of law that we have instilled in the constitution. In addition there will be an almost certain build up to the centennial referendum, with preparation by various groups and organizations highlighting and debating the various laws passed during the previous century.

Anyway, it was only a hypothetical. I think that it would probably just cause a lot of chaos and confusion. Indeed, if the "clean slate" run-off vote failed and the government was supposed to be dissolved, there would, by definition of dissolution, be anarchy, which is something we don't want. We would never need something like this if the system can be designed to fight encroachment of socialism and corruption.

I think it's an interesting idea, but a lot of "interesting ideas" are actually "very bad ideas" instead. :)

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Good governing will not be re-proven every 100 years, because even if the population votes that their government has become so corrupted that they need to start over from the original foundations of the government, they will still have the basic rules of law that we have instilled in the constitution.
Case in point, the reset which you suggest would be a disaster exactly because it wipes out the Bill of Rights and quite a number of very important amendments which further protect individual rights. I would be quite fearful of what would come in place of the Bill of Rights. Yes, there would be a lot of "build-up" for the centennial reboot, with various special interests hoping to give a special status to a Constitutionally guaranteed "right to health care", a "right to education" and a "right to a chicken in every pot".
I think that it would probably just cause a lot of chaos and confusion.
I agree.

The problem really lies in the fact that people (politicians) ignore the moral knowledge that we have gained in the past.

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Case in point, the reset which you suggest would be a disaster exactly because it wipes out the Bill of Rights and quite a number of very important amendments which further protect individual rights.

I was assuming that the Bill of Rights would be well designed and included in our rewritten constitution. Thus, it would still be there upon a "clean slate" vote. The things that would not be kept would be the laws that were extensions of the constitution. By this, I mean that the right to life extends to a right to property and a right to defend yourself. These two rights extend to the right to keep and bare arms. All this is, of course, explicitly in the constitution, so no super-constitutional extension is needed. Upon a "clean state" vote, all of these do not disappear, because they are primordial elements of the original constitution. However, the specific legality of owning a nuclear warhead or napalm may not be so well defined in the original constitution, so the congress may then outlaw it. Once the reset occurs this law which outlaws large destructive weapons will be wiped out. Perhaps after the referendum decides on a constitutional "clean slate", there should be a special session of congress, made of neither past nor current congressmen, which would convene and review each section of laws put into effect over the past 100 years and decide if they should be included in the next cycle. I don't know what other specifics of procedure would be needed for this to work correctly.

Anyway, I think you got the wrong idea. The "clean slate" situation would not wipe out any of the groundwork set down by the constitution that we are writing now. This includes the organization of government, the Bill of Rights, the non-legal statements explaining the purpose and thinking behind the way the constitution is set up, the income tax limits and whatever else. All of that would always be part of the constitution, as an integral part. If we sat down right now and put all of our ideas down on a piece of paper in an articulate well-reasoned manner and said "this is our objectivist designed constitution, isn't it great?", then a hundred years later everyone was sick of how politicians managed to sneak into some corner of the government and fester, then the people could vote for a "clean slate" and we would go back to that piece of paper with all of the original protections and intentions. I would like to strike from the record the idea of the second run-off vote that leads to the dissolution of government. It would simply be chaos. But the first part could be useful. Given an adequately formulated initial constitution, it would allow for a centennial "clean-slate" referendum in a way that would not destroy civilization, but would instead be a beneficial cleansing.

Oh, one more thing: I was assuming that we were only talking about federal law, so state law would be completely unaffected by the "clean-slate" vote.

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I haven't even begun to touch the parts that need to be deleted (like, the commerce clause, the welfare clause...).

Don't let the left convince you that they have sole authority to correctly interpret those clauses. There is nothing wrong with them, only those who interpret their incorrect meaning.

There is no welfare clause, only the power to tax. I offer a quotes from TJ and JM which are pretty good.

"To lay taxes to provide for the general welfare of the United States, that is to say, 'to lay taxes for the purpose of providing for the general welfare.' For the laying of taxes is the power, and the general welfare the purpose for which the power is to be exercised. They are not to lay taxes ad libitum for any purpose they please; but only to pay the debts or provide for the welfare of the Union. In like manner, they are not to do anything they please to provide for the general welfare, but only to lay taxes for that purpose. To consider the latter phrase, not as describing the purpose of the first, but as giving a distinct and independent power to do any act they please, which might be for the good of the Union, would render all the preceding and subsequent enumerations of power completely useless.

"It would reduce the whole instrument to a single phrase, that of instituting a Congress with power to do whatever would be for the good of the United States; and, as they would be the sole judges of the good or evil, it would be also a power to do whatever evil they please." --Thomas Jefferson My link

"Our tenet ever was that Congress had not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but were restrained to those specifically enumerated, and that, as it was never meant that they should provide for that welfare but by the exercise of the enumerated powers, so it could not have been meant they should raise money for purposes which the enumeration did not place under their action; consequently, that the specification of powers is a limitation of the purposes for which they may raise money. "-- Thomas Jefferson letter to Albert Gallatin, 1817

“If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one, subject to particular exceptions. It is to be remarked that the phrase out of which this doctrine is elaborated is copied from the old Articles of Confederation, where it was always understood as nothing more than a general caption to the specified powers."—James Madison’s letter written to Edmund Pendleton on January 21, 1792;

The commercerse clause was a restriction on states to manipulate the economy; not it's all powerful meaning that the left has given it. I offer Federalist Paper No. 42 to support my statement.

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The constitution has a lot of problem clauses that are only so in retrospect. This happens in legal documents of all kinds: one writes something, with a certain intent, but someone reads a different meaning into it. In retrospect, one realizes that the framing could have been tighter, to make it less easy to misinterpret (even if the misinterpretation is willing). Also, it is not just the leftists who are happy to read their own meanings into the constitution, even the self-proclaimed "originalist" Scalia does so when it suits hm.

Perhaps the biggest mistake in writing the constitution was that the key idea -- i.e. individual rights -- from the Declaration of Independence was not explicitly included and made primary.

Edited by softwareNerd
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Perhaps the biggest mistake in writing the constitution was that the key idea -- i.e. individual rights -- from the Declaration of Independence was not explicitly included and made primary.

Perhaps, but for a document meant to limit a federal government, it seems a bit odd listing rights of individuals. Or are you suggesting that it should have highlighted, as it's purpose, the protection of individual rights?
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