On Wednesday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I interviewed former Republican congressional candidate Stephen Bailey about “Limiting Government by Constitutional Amendment.” The podcast of that episode is now available for streaming or downloading.

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Podcast: 20 March 2013

Could an amendment to the US Contitution provide an effective check on government power? Stephen Bailey, a Republican congressional candidate in 2010, has a proposal for a constitutional amendment that deserves consideration.

Stephen Bailey was the Republican candidate to represent Colorado’s 2nd congressional district in 2010. Since November of 2010, Stephen has been analyzing the U.S. Constitution, contemplating its flaws and searching for a path to a restoration of individual rights and personal liberty.

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Topics:

  • Commonly proposed changes to the constitution
  • Political change via voting
  • The fatal flaw in the constitution
  • Jury nullification
  • State nullification
  • The failure of the checks and balances system
  • The proper balance of power
  • The proposed amendment
  • The problem of ignorant jurors
  • The problem of corrupt jurors
  • The problem of criminal jurors
  • The outcomes of this system of nullification
  • The appeals process
  • Democracy versus this proposal
  • Disqualifying politicians from future office
  • Fully Informed Jury Association
  • This amendment as the completion of the Civil Rights Movement
  • Learning more, doing more

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  • Rasskazivats

    How about this for a constitutional amendment:

    All new legislation proposed to either branch of congress must be read aloud on the floors. If a congressman is not physically present for the entirety of the reading, then that congressman may not vote on that piece of legislation, except with a “no” vote.

    Congress will re-vote on all federal legislation currently active on the books, at a rate of 1 piece of legislation per day, in order of most costly to least, in order to bring all existing legislation into compliance with this amendment.

    • shemsky

      How about this: No person shall ever be compelled to support any law or any act that violates their conscience. The institution of slavery could never have withstood such a law. The Holocaust would never have happened if people had followed this law, because the German people would not have been forced to support their government’s insane ideas. Forcing individuals to violate their own conscience is what drives these terrible things, and keeps allowing them to happen.

      Of course, this would mean the end of government as an institution with a monopoly on the right to make and enforce the law.

      • Rasskazivats

        Well, I agree that this would collapse the government. It would make all laws unenforceable. I don’t think we’re ready for anarchy. Let’s stick to Libertarianism/Capitalism for now and see how that goes. Maybe after a few generations of people getting used to being free and responsible for themselves, we can revisit the anarcho-capitalism idea.

        The problem with anarchy is that it tends to eventually evolve into either a gang or a republic. And I prefer a republic to a gang. I will create a post about this tonight and get back with you as to the why this is.

        When it comes to injust ideas, I take the Heinlein approach:

        “I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.”

        • shemsky

          No, it wouldn’t make all laws unenforceable. That;’s absurd. Almost everyone supports laws that prosecute things like rape, murder and theft. There is no need to force people to support laws against those kinds of crimes. But it would make it very difficult if not impossible to force people to support unjust laws, including laws against “crimes” that have no victims. If you value freedom of conscience, then you shouldn’t want to limit it to matters of religion. It should apply to everything.

          I have a conscience, and I consider my conscience to be a reliable guide to informing me of the difference between right and wrong. I’m assuming that it’s the same with you and most other people, even if they sometimes don’t follow their conscience. No one should be able to force either one of us to violate our conscience, either by forcing us to act or by forcing us to support acts by others.

          • Rasskazivats

            Sure it will.

            “You killed someone. It’s wrong and it’s against the law. You have to pay.”

            “My conscience dictated that he had to die. He had sex with my wife. My wife said it was rape. There were no witnesses.”

            What do you say to that?

          • shemsky

            I say that if you believe that the husband acted without justification and should be prosecuted for it, then support his prosecution. But if you don’t believe that the husband acted without justification, then you shouldn’t be forced to participate in or support his prosecution.

            Just as if you think that individuals should be allowed to own firearms, then you shouldn’t have an obligation to support the laws that infringe on the right of individuals to own firearms. In other words, you shouldn’t have to pay to enforce laws that violate your conscience, nor should you have to participate in the enforcement of these laws.

            If you don’t trust individuals to make sound decisions for themselves, then how could you possibly trust them to make sound decisions for other people, by voting or holding public office?.

          • Rasskazivats

            That’s already the way it is. It’s called “jury nullification.” An individual must do what he thinks is right. If it happens to be against the law, and he gets caught, then, if the jury concurs that the law does not reflect justice in the situation, they can vote that the defendant is “not guilty.”

          • shemsky

            Then why propose constitutional amendments, when jury nullification will accomplish everything you want it to accomplish? Why work, when you already have it all? Right?

          • Rasskazivats

            Because most laws don’t put a man of conscience on trial.

            Those kinds of laws are relatively simple to defeat (do not comply).

            Most laws accumulate tiny injustices that amount to an attack on the individual by millions of pin pricks. And this is accomplished through excessive legislation, and laws that are fragmentary grenades full of hidden, destructive directives.

            The way you stop this is to force anyone who wants to vote on a law to have to physically sit down and listen to what he/she is voting for.

          • shemsky

            If you defy the government by refusing to comply with their laws, then they will most certainly put you on trial and exact their retribution. That should be obvious to anyone with any common sense. Then you will be forced to comply with the government’s laws and be subjected to whatever penalty the government deems appropriate.

            What are you going to do, tie people to a chair and force them to listen to you? Are you also going to force them to vote the way you want them to vote? Stop being ridiculous.

          • Rasskazivats

            “If you defy the government by refusing to comply with their laws, then they will most certainly put you on trial and exact their retribution. That should be obvious to anyone with any common sense. Then you will be forced to comply with the government’s laws and be subjected to whatever penalty the government deems appropriate.”

            If want to be free, then you must be aggressive. Freedom is for heroes.

            “What are you going to do, tie people to a chair and force them to listen to you? Are you also going to force them to vote the way you want them to vote? Stop being ridiculous.”

            Did you not read my initial comment?

            Constitutional amendment.

          • shemsky

            Freedom is for everyone that doesn’t want to be a slave. You can be the hero. I’m no coward or pacifist, but I’m also no good to my children sitting in a jail cell or dead. But I’ll watch for your name in the news.

            Force everyone to sit down and physically listen to what they are voting for was your suggestion, not mine. Trying to persuade other people through rational means that your ideas would work is my suggestion. I’m not surprised that you suggest using force to get your way. That’s what collectivists always do.

            I wish you well with the constitutional amendment. But I don’t put much faith in that sort of thing. These days our government pretty much ignores the constitution unless they want to use it for their own benefit. And a constitution can’t enforce itself, even though most people go on acting as if it can. A constitution has to be interpreted, and different people are always coming up with wildly different interpretations of the various articles and amendments of the constitution. Anything you come up with will be whittled down and reinterpreted to death, until you won’t even be able to recognize it anymore.

            I’ll trust individuals having the right to follow their conscience and making decisions for themselves about what’s right and wrong over your constitution, which will be interpreted and administered by government officials that are working for themselves, not you..

          • Rasskazivats

            The path of freedom is paved with blood and tears. If you enjoy it without having to have bled, then God bless you. But understand that the cost of freedom is eternal vigilance, and it cannot be sustained without the willingness of the strong to defend it at all costs.

            You have to keep your government in check.

            This means, limit them with the constitution.

            If they fail to abide by the constitution, refuse to comply.

            Arm yourself and organize with the like-minded, and people in government who have not betrayed the people, so that when people start disappearing, you can resist and overcome.

            You have children?

            Do what you can.

          • Rasskazivats

            I responded to this, but my response keeps disappearing. I don’t think it was Diana; this kind of thing has happened before.

            To the man behind the curtain: I know you’re following me. I know you’re afraid of me. I defy you.

          • Rasskazivats

            “Freedom is for everyone that doesn’t want to be a slave.”

            Then assert the fact that you are not a slave.

            “You can be the hero. I’m no coward or pacifist, but I’m also no good to my children sitting in a jail cell or dead. But I’ll watch for your name in the news.”

            You won’t see it. Most battles are small. A vaccine is refused. A paper is written and sent to key personnel. The vaccine disappears. Attempts are made by private security guards to limit free speech. People refuse to leave. When the police are called, your rights are reaffirmed. A cop asks to search your vehicle. You say no. Small battles that let the tyrants know their place. God forbid things should spin out of control. That’s not what I want. Although, I am prepared for that, too.

            Tyrants are demons. Demons can be put in their place when you invoke the truth — unless, of course, they are allowed to run unchecked. Then you get Germany in the 1930s.

            “Force everyone to sit down and physically listen to what they are voting for was your suggestion, not mine. Trying to persuade other people through rational means that your ideas would work is my suggestion. I’m not surprised that you suggest using force to get your way. That’s what collectivists always do.”

            Strawman. Not even close to what I was suggesting. I was suggesting forcing LEGISLATORS to have to LISTEN to the bill they’re going too VOTE for on behalf of US. They are not engaging in rational debate. They are creating directives. If they are going to implement FORCE against us, then they should at least have to sit there and listen to what they’re doing to us.

            “I wish you well with the constitutional amendment. But I don’t put much faith in that sort of thing. These days our government pretty much ignores the constitution unless they want to use it for their own benefit. And a constitution can’t enforce itself, even though most people go on acting as if it can. A constitution has to be interpreted, and different people are always coming up with wildly different interpretations of the various articles and amendments of the constitution. Anything you come up with will be whittled down and reinterpreted to death, until you won’t even be able to recognize it anymore.

            I’ll trust individuals having the right to follow their conscience and making decisions for themselves about what’s right and wrong over your constitution, which will be interpreted and administered by government officials that are working for themselves, not you..”

            I can understand you being more concerned with your children than keeping the power in check. Please don’t condescend to me for being willing to stand up.

          • shemsky

            One last word here, and then I’m done with this exchange. I see yours and others defense of the state as nothing more than an attempt to justify your view that individuals have been born with an obligation to join your group and help protect you from evil. So, in that respect, you’re exactly the same as people who believe that individuals have a duty to contribute to the welfare of others, whether or not those individuals see any value in doing so. Which, I would say, is very altruistic-like of you. You think that other people must sacrifice their individuality for your benefit. If that wasn’t true, then you would be perfectly willing to let other people form their own groups and make their own rules, as long as they left you alone.

            My view is that if you want others to join your group and help to protect you from evil, then you must bargain with them. Which means that they have the right to refuse to join you.

          • Rasskazivats

            You really don’t know who you’re talking to.

            Don’t think that just because I don’t go around tooting my own horn, that I haven’t fought the state at great cost to my self.

            I don’t do it for others; I don’t even do it for personal gain. I do it because it is what I must do. It’s that simple. You presume much about me. Be more careful about addressing those you do not know.

          • shemsky

            It doesn’t matter to me who you are. Nor should it matter to you who I am. All I presume about you is that you want to subject me to your version of the properly governed society, with no regard for my views on the matter.

            Have a good day.

          • Rasskazivats

            What are you talking about?

            I proposed something very specific, and, it seems to me, very uncontroversial: that measures should be taken to make sure that legislators at least know what they’re voting for. What, in anything that I’ve said, gives you the impression that I’m trying to “subject” you?

            It doesn’t matter to me who you are, and I have no interest in telling you who I am, but your insinuation that I am sacrificing others in order to secure my own liberty is, frankly, insulting in the extreme.

          • shemsky

            If you look at my very first comment you will see that it implied that no government has any right to force an individual to do something that their conscience tells them is wrong. You disagreed, meaning that you do, in fact, think that a government has the right to force an individual to do something that their conscience tells them is wrong. In other words, Rasskazivats, you want to subject me to a government that has the right to force me to do things that my conscience tells me is wrong. Are you denying this? If you deny this, then you are an anarchist. And, if so, welcome to the fold.

          • Rasskazivats

            Well, I am an anaracho-capitalist, in principle, but I think only the strong are fit for it. It’s something that, as a society, we will have to grow into. In the meantime, we need to transition back to a republic.

            I’m kind of like a reverse-marxist in that way (i.e., Republic to anarcho-capitalism, versus Socialism to anarcho-communism).

            As for conscience, I think you give people too much credit — I know people who don’t have consciences. Therefore, I think governments should exercise justice — which means: an eye for an eye.

          • shemsky

            I think that everyone who is not insane has a conscience. How else would they be able to decide right from wrong? However, not everyone always follows their conscience. The person who steals for a living knows, as well as any human can, that what they do is wrong. They choose to do wrong, which is why they should be punished for it.

          • Rasskazivats

            I think, once the smoke clears, we’re more or less in agreement.

            But I will say that insanity is endemic, these days.

          • Rasskazivats

            http://transegoism.us/the-transiency-of-lawlessness/

            I’ve gone into my views on anarchy in detail.

  • http://www.philosophyinaction.com/ Diana Hsieh

    FYI, I’ve not deleted any comments. Disqus might be behaving badly.

    • Rasskazivats

      I know.

      Could have been a glitch.

      Then again…I could tell you some interesting stories.

   
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