Search This Blog

Thursday, February 16, 2012

For some reason, Federal abuses of the Constitution are on my mind this morning.

Strange guy that I am, I woke up thinking about the many ways the feds abuse or ignore the Constitution, which is really meant to severely limit the power and authority they have. The most abused section of the Constitution is Article 1, Section 8, 3rd paragraph, the so-called Interstate Commerce Clause, which reads "To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;". What was intended by this was for the federal government to be able set international trading policy, so each state didn't set different tariffs and rules for import/export (thereby causing some states to become too powerful in international trade), to prevent trade wars between the states by one state regulating prices and taxes on incoming goods, and to allow for common trade practices with the various Indian tribes, which were not considered citizens at the time (I'll deal with those abuses at a later time).

The feds have, until fairly recently, done a passable job on the whole international trade issue. There have been some problematic times and issues, but on the whole it has worked out fairly well for the whole country. Some of the mistakes that come to mind are things like the tariff on imported motorcycles over 700cc displacement (put in place in 1983 to protect Harley-Davidson, which at the time could not or would not produce a quality product), which expired after 5 years, and a ban on sales of certain game consoles to some foreign countries because of the computing power they contained. There were two problems with the last example, the first being those consoles weren't even produced in this country, how did our government have the authority to regulate them (don't sell to our enemies or you won't be able to sell to us, the largest consumer market in the world, is how it worked) and two, it was a game machine. Yes, at the time it had better graphics capability than a PC or Mac, but it was very specialized hardware and not readily usable for anything else.

The Interstate commerce thing, now that's a whole other problem. They have, starting in the 1930s, used this "power" to try to regulate virtually everything that is sold in this country, even if it doesn't cross state lines. In the case of Wickard v. Filburn, the feds had put quotas for the maximum amount of wheat a farmer could produce in order to boost prices during the great depression (what was so great about it anyway, most people think it sucked). Roscoe Filburn was growing wheat for use on his own farm, not for sale, and exceeded his quota. He was sued by the feds because, by growing his own wheat, he would negatively affect the interstate market. If he wasn't selling his wheat there was no interstate commerce for them to regulate, but the Supreme Court decided that the feds were right, driving a rather large nail into the coffin of free trade.

They have also used the same clause to control firearms sales (NFA '38, GCA '68, FOPA '86, etc) to the point that several states have passed or are considering laws stating that firearms and ammunition produced in the sate for sale in the state are not subject to federal regulation. These laws have yet to be tested in court but I have high hopes, although the feds will probably use the Wickard argument when it get to the US Supreme Court.

They even used this clause to prosecute pot growers in states where the state has declared it legal. Now I don't use drugs but I also don't think they should be illegal. Treat them like alcohol and tobacco, with similar age restrictions and taxes, and stop wasting money trying to stop the import and sale of something you can't stop, and hold the users responsible for their actions under the influence. In Gonzales v. Raich the feds destroy a medical marijuana users plants (grown for his own use) and arrested her. The argument for the government was two-fold. First, they claimed the feds had the authority to regulate the use of marijuana (not covered in the Constitution, so I kind of doubt it would fly with the framers of that document). Second, they fell back on the flawed Wickard argument, that by growing for home use they impacted an interstate market. If their first argument is true, that they can ban the use of a product, then their second argument must be false, because if a product is banned then there is no market for that product, legally.

Let's do the right thing in this country and start doing away with the alphabet soup of agencies which are unconstitutional. The DEA and BATFE (especially) have no constitutional basis for existing, nor do most of  the other large agencies. Really the only agencies that are mentioned that the feds can legitimately have are the Department of Defense (not offense), the State Department and, unbelievably, the Post Office (and to create Post Roads, but not a federal highway system). Oh, and maybe the IRS,but I guarantee the framers would not have approved the 16th amendment, nor would they allow a tax code that even those who administer it can't understand.

No comments:

Post a Comment