Last updated September 18, 2012:
It has been three and a half years now since I originally wrote this article. For the past year and a half, I have been re-considering the ideas presented here and the opinions I received which were very much against them. Anyone examining this site can see that I don’t have the time to update here regularly. As time allows, I will at least post links to articles on GiN that are relevant to this subject, if not republish them here.
Meanwhile, I have reviewed this article for typos as of this most recent update. Since this is my personal site, I do not have the vitally important assistance that Linda’s careful editing eye affords on the GiN site.
Updated May 14, 2009
When I first wrote this point, I was still exploring the idea of Constitutional amendments. I have learned since, that contrary to what I was hoping, the only avenues available to amend the Constitution prevent implementing the idea of amendments in the current environment.
There has never been amendment by Constitutional Convention. This, as is turns out, is a very dangerous process. The Convention cannot be convened for a defined or specific purpose. In other words, the entire Constitution would be opened to amendment.
At some point in the very near future, I will lay out here the specifics of the process and what they would mean for a real movement towards amending the Constitution.
The important issues which I have noted and Friedman’s suggested cure have not changed. The question is: how can the necessary changes be implemented? That is what I am currently pondering.
May 1, 2009: **I am working towards updating this based on new information I’ve uncovered, input from others, and additional thinking.**
Originally posted April 21, 2009
Respected economist Milton Friedman, in proposing solutions to increasingly growing federal government, said that just going after special interests individually will not work, it’s like going after “many headed hydras”. He noted that we should “treat cases as a bundle.”
This post is a proposal for an objective and strategy for the “Tea Party movement”. This is really only one aspect of my overall suggestions. I have written an extensive piece on the need for a real grassroots alternative for the whole movement. You may read either the summary piece by clicking here, or the full text by clicking here.
Proposal: A suggested objective and strategy for Tea Party
A general consensus seems to have developed concerning the next move: July 4.
I am not alone in my thinking that the greatest show of force to date may be obtained by encouraging as many people as possible to rally at their State Capitols on July 4.
“Independence Day Tea Party – Re-Declaring Our Independence”
A re-enactment of the reading of the Declaration of Independence, followed by a proclamation, a “New Declaration of Independence” and a roll-out of a set of Constitutional amendments, which encapsulates a number of already-circulating proposed amendments and a number of ideas expounded upon by the economist Milton Friedman, perhaps entitled, a “Second Bill of Rights”.
In the early 1960s, economist Milton Friedman stated the following:
“I believe government has grown to a size that’s far beyond it’s scope. Where are we going? I believe that that depends on us…I believe that we are masters of our own destinies. But if you take the road that we have been on, we are heading toward the destruction of our free society and toward a totalitarian society. We are unfortunately headed down the route where it’s chilling and we’ve already taken a century to attain. Now Britain’s taken it much farther. Now I believe we still have time to avoid it. But we will not avoid it unless the people of this country recognize the danger and take very difficult and important steps to set a limit to the extent which they are going to allow government to interfere with their lives.
The chances of avoiding it may well be less than 50%. We may well be fighting a losing battle. If it’s the right battle, if it’s the only alternative to serfdom, than we ought to fight it.”
Clearly Milton Friedman had foresight and it’s chilling to read his words today. Almost fifty years later, particularly in light of events of the past six months, what do we suppose the chances of avoiding the destruction of our free society have become?
In 1979, Friedman made a documentary series and wrote a companion book outlining his theories of economics and freedom called Free to Choose. The ten part series aired on public television in 1980, and again in a revised form in 1990. Friedman walks through the basic principles of economics and how inextricably tied economic freedom is to personal freedom.
Chapter by chapter, he walks logically through the many problems existent in American’s government at that time. In many respects, it could have been written today, only the circumstances are more dire, the problematic numbers cited increased dramatically, in some cases, exponentially. Through this logical walk, one realizes the truth: the many problems that exist will not be easily solved. As Friedman noted in the early ’60s, the problems cannot be reversed.
Central to the reversal of the tide, Friedman noted, is what he called the “climate of opinion”, which he defined as the dominant philosophies of the…
- Academic community
- Inner political circles
- Popular culture
The climate of opinion directly influences public policy. In order to reverse the trend, it is critical to influence the climate of opinion. Is it necessary to review the climate of opinion on the aforementioned circles or the direction in which it has influenced public policy?
We need to change the conversation in this country, quickly, and proactively attempt to reverse the current general climate of opinion.
It is difficult in reading Friedman’s book, if you are someone who already believed the United States has become untethered from its Constitutional basis, to disagree with Friedman, that the only way to permanently alter the course we’ve been following is by attempting to pass Constitutional amendments. Friedman called it “an Economic Bill of Rights”, modeled after the original Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the Constitution.
Friedman had not devised a full list of ten amendments nor had he or the group with which he was working on developing the language ever finalize it. The time for such an endeavor was not yet ripe. Although Friedman believed in the necessity of the measures he did propose, he acknowledge the level of difficulty such an undertaking entailed. He acknowledged that although the adoption of the amendments might ultimately fail, the introduction of such a Bill of Rights could bring about a debate, if properly handled, that could change the overall climate of opinion.
I would add that in order for such an effort to be successful, even if success is only defined as changing the climate of opinion, there would need to be a significant and solid base of support for such an effort. Because the time was apparently not yet right for such an effort, Freidman’s idea did not attract that solid base of support at that time.
Unfortunately, most of the problems pointed out by Friedman in the early 1980s still exist – have even gotten worse.
It is necessary at this point to act boldly. It seems necessary to perhaps, very seriously “overthrow the pitch” in hopes, at the least, of beginning to reverse the course and start moving back in the right direction.
Due to many pieces of legislation, court decisions, and events, there are other provisions that are now necessary to adopt beyond Friedman’s “Economic Bill of Rights” concept. Very recently, there have been resolutions and amendments proposed both in some State Legislatures and in the United States Congress, that could be incorporated into a Second Bill of Rights.
Even if the Amendments failed to be incorporated in the United States Constitution, it may well be possible to implement those that are relevant in the Constitutions of States.
What follows below is a proposal, a very rough draft to spark the dialogue the needs to occur in every household, in every community, and in every state.
Please use it as a springboard for just that. As Friedman pointed, part of the value in proposing a second Bill of Rights is in the process of debating the issues we confront and the potential solutions.
A Second Bill of Rights?
The following articles are proposed as amendments to the Constitution of the United States, which shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution when ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years after the date of its submission for ratification:
1. Abolishing the Federal Reserve, preventing the future creation of a central bank, preventing the US from adopting any other currency, ending inflation
SECTION 1The Federal Reserve Act of 1908 is hereby repealed.
SECTION 2 Congress shall make no law establishing a central banking system.
SECTION 3 Congress shall make no law nor enter in any treaty or international agreement that provides for the United States to adopt as legal tender in the United States a currency issued by an entity other than the United States.
SECTION 4 The President may not enter into a treaty or other international agreement that would provide for the United States to adopt as legal tender in the United States a currency issued by an entity other than the United States.
(H.J. Resolution 41, 111th Congress)
SECTION 5 Congress shall have the power to authorize non-interest bearing obligations of the Government, in the form of book entries, provided that the total dollar amount outstanding increases by no more than 5% per year and no less than 3% per year, excepting by a two-thirds majority of Congress in times of war, and only provided that the exception will expire at the end of a twelve month period, at which time it is subject to renewal by another two-thirds majority.
SECTION 6 Contracts by the U.S. government, with other parties, stated in dollars, shall be adjusted annually to allow for the general change in prices the prior year.
2. Strengthening the Tenth Amendment, Acknowledging the Sovereignty of the States
Examine model legislation in several states. Oklahoma H.J. 1003
3. Establishing Term Limits for members of the U.S. Congress, requirements to participate in a vote, and abolishing special privileges
SECTION 1 No member of the United States House of Representatives shall serve more than a lifetime total of four two year terms.
SECTION 2 No member of the United States Senate shall serve more than a lifetime total of two six year terms.
SECTION 3 No bill shall become law until it has been _______ (?)
SECTION 4 No member of Congress shall vote on any bill or resolution unless they are present for a full oral reading of that bill or resolution .
4. Limiting the amount of taxes Government can collect, based on a percentage of national income
Research proposed amendments – NTLC / Friedman
5. Limiting income taxation, repealing the progressive system, requiring all citizens to pay taxes
The Sixteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.
The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes of persons from whatever sources derived, without apportionment to the Several States and without regard to any census, or enumeration, provided that the same tax rate is applied to all income, in excess of occupational and business expenses and a personal allowance of a fixed amount.
The word person shall exclude corporation and other imaginary persons.
6. Limiting the amount of money, as a percentage of national income, that Government can spend each year
Research prior proposed amendments – NTLC / Friedman
7. Freedom to work, to buy goods and services
The right of the people to buy and sell legitimate goods and services at mutually acceptable terms shall not be infringed by Congress or any of the States.
Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of goods or labor to price their products or services.
No State shall make any law that shall abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to follow any occupation or profession of his choice.
8. Limiting the power of Congress to restrict trade.
Congress shall not lay any imposts or duties on imports or exports except what is absolutely necessary for executing its inspections laws.