Happy Fourth of July! Don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, but the state of the Republic requires serious thought. Our government has managed to create endless opportunities, but not for ordinary people—only for political operators and influence peddlers, with the Obama Administration pushing some 4,500 pages of medical and financial regulation just in its first 18 months.
What is more, those reams of regulation are an epitome of vagueness, of “unfathomable murk” in the fine phrase Daniel Henninger used in the WSJ to describe the problem. In the murk and the wide-open discretion given to public bureaucrats lie gems for lobbyists. The White House and Congressional Democrats – even as they chided business lobbies – maximized the bills’ scope and vagueness, laying the groundwork for massive growth in the crony system that intermingles government with private interests.
What we see is something James Madison predicted.
“Every new regulation concerning commerce or revenue, or in any manner affecting the value of the different species of property, presents a new harvest to those who watch the change, and can trace its consequences,” wrote Madison in the Federalist Papers. He pointed out that this gives “unreasonable advantage” to the enterprising and the moneyed few over the mass of the people.
His point: laws should be stable and transparent. The US Constitution, of course, was designed to foster limited government with a small but effective and widely understood set of tools.
Instead, Mr. Obama and his associates have created the most bountiful “harvest” for the politically connected. A harvest, Madison wrote, “reared not by themselves, but by the toils and cares of the great body of their fellow-citizens.”
Laws should be no longer than the Constitution – as I think a Tea Partier suggested – and of comparable clarity. What’s needed is a Constitutional amendment to that effect.