The Benefits of Academic Scribblers – An Austrian View

In his 1936 book The General Theory of Employment, Keynes declared:

The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed, the world is ruled by little else…Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back (1) 

In less than two weeks, I will attend a seminar at the Mercatus Center called “Advanced Austrian Economics”. I urge you to become more familiar with the Mercatus Center – their scholars are leaders in the cause of freedom and Mercatus is one of America’s most important “Liberty Projects”. Just as the American Revolution needed the intellectual foundation of Locke, Hamilton, Madison, Jefferson and others, the restoration and advancement of our founding ideals will require the intellectual foundation of groups like the Mercatus center, Cato Institute, Independent Institute and FEE – among others.

That said, I’ve been re-reading Austrian economic scholars (Menger, Mises, Hayek, Kirzner, et al) in preparation for a great conference. I started with an audio version of Israel Kirzner’s Early Austrian Economics.  Kirzner provides an excellent overview of the founders of Austrian Economics including Carl Menger (1840-1921) and Eugen von Bohm-Bawerk (1851-1914). (The audible version allows me to absorb a lot of material while I exercise every morning – very useful for books without mathematics or graphs).  For those interested in Austrian economics, what Mises called “logical economics”, I highly recommend Kirzner over others – as a student of Mises while at NYU during the 1950s, Kirzner has an inside perspective that’s hard to beat. I then re-read Mises’ Science of Human Action – the Scholar’s Edition (2).  The great economist Robert Higgs once told me that most graduate students in economics don’t understand the first 140 pages (Part I) of Human Action – but they should. It’s difficult to get through, but well worth the effort. Mises is brilliant and his insights are profoundly important.

For example, in the Introduction for Human Action, Mises makes an important observation about human progress. This observation is so important that Mises claims that, “What is wrong with our age the widespread ignorance of which…policies of economic freedom played in the technological evolution of the last two hundred years”. That’s quite a claim, but accurate once one thinks it through. Everyone can see the results of “technological evolution”. Every morning, I come downstairs to find my Starbucks coffee, expertly roasted from the Sumatra island of Indonesia, already made and waiting for me – something even King Henry VIII couldn’t make happen.  The “Top 1%” protestor in Central Park coordinates her activity using a cell phone – something that John Rockefeller – the wealthiest of the “robber barons” could never do. In 1836, Nathan Mayer Rothschild – part of a family worth over $300 billion – died of an infected abscess. Today, WebMD suggests many abscesses can be treated at home, but if you have to see a doctor, he or she will drain the abscess then:

  1. You will be given instructions about home care.
  2. Most people feel better immediately after the abscess is drained.
  3. If still experiencing pain, doctor may prescribe pain pills for home use over next 1-2 days.

Sounds simple enough, but that was beyond the reach of the richest man on earth in the 19th century. It is now within the reach of most Americans in the 21st century – in other words, almost all Americans are better off than the top 1% 200 years ago. This kind of progress was unthinkable back then – what changed? Who or what changed it? I have several points – a) life has gotten much, much better, b) most people don’t appreciate that and c) most who do, attribute it to improvements in “technology” or “natural science”. Mises claims these improvements would not be possible without first changing the laws or “political economy” in the centuries preceding these technological changes. Most are unaware of the contributions of folks like John Locke, Adam Smith, David Ricardo and Francois Quesnay but Mises wants to make sure we understand the impact these men had on laws that held us back for centuries:

  • That it is unfair and unjust to outdo a competitor by producing better and cheaper goods
  • That it is iniquitous to deviate from the traditional methods of production
  • That machines are an evil because they bring about unemployment
  • That it is the task of civil government to prevent efficient businessmen from getting rich and to protect the less efficient against the competition of the more efficient
  • That to restrict the freedom of entrepreneurs by government compulsion or by coercion on the part of other social powers is an appropriate means to promote the nation’s wellbeing

Mises then asserts that “British political economy and French Physiocracy (3)(the economists & les économistes) were the pacemakers of modern capitalism. It is they that made possible the progress of applied natural sciences that has heaped benefits on the masses”(3).

Further, on Mises original point, that “what’s wrong with our age” is that so many are ignorant of how the ideas of the political economists changed everything. If their contributions were recognized, if people gave credit to Locke and the Marquis de Condorcet for creating the intellectual environment that allows people around the world to read these words instantly – they’d seek to preserve the freedom that led to those innovations. Instead, our colleges sometimes teach that the contributions of the Economists and les économistes were coincident with, not a cause of, technological innovations. In fact, some argue that if you could just set up a more fair distribution scheme, then everyone could enjoy the benefits of technology – that’s got it backward. Contrast that with what I’ve been taught over and over, especially from two leaders at the Mercatus Center – Dr. Chris Coyne & Dr. Jayme Lemke:

“The truth is – if you really care about the well-being of others, you’ll argue for free markets.”

By MC, published February 15, 2016

Note: This is the first in a series of articles on Austrian economics – the theories of the historical leaders and of the people who articulate and advance Austrian economics today.

1 – White, Lawrence H. In The Clash of Economic Ideas: The Great Policy Debates and Experiments of the Last Hundred Years, New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2012. Page 5. Print.
2 – Mises, Ludwig. Human Action: The Scholar’s Edition. Hillsdale, MI: Hillsdale College, 2000. Print.
 3 – More on French Physiocrats @ http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2013/10/economic-history-0

 

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The Obama Court

By tradition, Courts take name of the Chief Justice, thus the current court is called “The Roberts Court”, because of Chief Justice John Roberts.

However, unless Senate Republicans postpone consideration of any nominee, until next President, the U.S. Supreme Court will be known as

“The Obama Court”.

We were warned about this back in 2012 – that now seems so long ago.  It represented a brave and needed attempt to point out how important judicial appointments are – especially Supreme Court nominations – when choosing a presidential candidate.  Well, we all know how things turned out.Risk of Obama nominations

After that, all we could do is support as many pro-freedom, pro-constitution Senate candidates as we can.  When the GOP won a majority beginning in January, 2015, that seemed to convince Breyer and Ginsburg to put off retirement until (they hope) Democrats take back the Senate in the 2016 election.  However, Scalia’s very, very unfortunate death has changed everything – a huge loss for the country.  If the other 3 now resign – that will mean 6 total Obama nominees – a disaster for the country for generations.  Even one, to replace Scalia, will mean 5 left-leaning progressives – that is a game changer.  Here’s why.

Kennedy was often seen as a “swing vote” on a SCOTUS split between the four on the right (Scalia, Thomas, Alioto and Chief Justice Roberts) and four on the left (Breyer, Ginsburg, Sotomayor & Kagan).  Looking forward (no pun intended), the fact that Obama may replace two more liberal justices, the “swing vote” and now, Justice Scalia, should get the attention of everyone on the right and anyone who cares about the future of this country.  This makes very real, the possibility that Obama will have placed on the Supreme Court six of the nine justices – a majority bloc that will change this country for generations.

That’s not hyperbole.  If it happens, it will represent the largest influence on the Court since FDR – who threatened the Supreme Court.  Reagan himself, as popular as he was, serving for eight years, only nominated four of the Supreme Court Justices and one of those was the “swing-vote” Kennedy – a third choice after Judge Robert Bork was “Borked” by Ted Kennedy and Judge Douglas Ginsburg (no relation) was taken down by NPR’s Nina Totenberg for using marijuana 15 years prior – for which she won the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Silver Baton award for journalism (eye roll please…).

Knowing this, we must reassess the advise and consent role of the Senate.  If moderate Republicans agree to “let the President have his nominee”, then for the next thirty years, the Obama Justices will vote their way and there’s nothing we can do to stop them.  Nothing.  Nada.  Every single case that’s brought before the Court would be decided in favor of progressive ideology.   State’s rights would virtually disappear and anything a Republican President, Congress, Governor or state legislature did would be overturned within the Court system.  That amazing 2010 victory that resulted in a record 680 new GOP state house seats – nullified by, you guessed it, the Obama Justices.

For example, a few years ago, the Court decided narrowly, as they often do, that Congress could not use 45 year old data for the Voting Rights Act of 1965 – a reasonable ruling that the four liberal justices dissented from.  Right after the Obama Justices are in place, cases from all over the country challenging Voter ID laws, perhaps even citizenship requirements for voting, will be brought to the Court and decided in favor of progressives and against conservatives.  Just imagine, all those illegal immigrants that Marco Rubio wants to make legal would be given voter rights under the Obama Justices.

In fact, even if the Gang of 8 Amnesty bill doesn’t pass, illegal immigrants may be encouraged to sue for voting rights, based on residency.  Even if they’re denied at every level – Federal District Court and the Court of Appeals – it can all be overturned at the Supreme Court and, because of the supremacy clause, there is nowhere to turn – if the court rules illegals cannot be denied voting rights.

While we, who use reason, would say this is blatantly unconstitutional –judicial activists, who believe in a “Living Constitution”, would claim this is just the latest example of the Court bringing about “social justice” to make U.S. a more “perfect union”.  In fact, whether a case is heard or not only requires four Justices to agree – the so-called “Rule of Four” for granting cert.  So, conservatives don’t even have a say which case to hear – the five Obama Justices could deny certiorari to cases that favor conservatives and only hear cases that favor progressives.  That’s the end of all kinds of “Liberty Projects” for U.S.

Most shocking of all – the Obama Justices will maintain this power even if we elect a Republican President for the next twenty years.  A GOP President can only replace justices that step down.  The Obama Justices will simply remain on the court, as a governing bloc, until they grow old or another progressive is elected.  They’ve got plenty of time.  So far, Obama’s first two justices, Sotomayor and Kagan are 55 and 50 years old, respectively.  Anyone want to bet the next four will also be young?  That gives the Obama Justices a good twenty years together – plenty of time to allow Obama to keep his promise of “fundamentally transforming the United States of America”.

 

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Smith, Free Markets & Human Life

During the hunting societies of the Old Stone Age, 200 sq mi of land was needed to support each person, so there were no more than 500 people on the whole island of the paleolithic United Kingdom.  If more than that would be born, more would starve – as Adam Smith’s famous equilibrium kicks in. Agricultural was a big step but it was the division of labor, specialization, rule of law and trade that enabled Britain to ultimately support 11,000 times that in 1696 when 5.5 million occupied the same island. Despite PC pronouncements to the contrary, it is this ability to allow millions to live that makes free markets and civilization superior to other types of societies.

Smith’s argument about population is like his ideas about country’s inventory of gold – it will seek a supply & demand equilibrium, that needn’t, and shouldn’t, have government’s attention. Specifically, he’s saying when the supply of workers is low (relative to demand), wages rise and people will feel more confident bringing children into the world. This is why, in the British colonies (back then), that were “much more thriving” than England, “those who live to old age…see…50 to 100 descendants from their own body” (p81). Without growth, or where wages are declining, the population at the very bottom suffer the most, and labor supply is reduced (through starvation).

Malthus, on the contrary, unpersuaded by claims that the population had declined over 30%, since the Restoration (1660), was alarmed the population would rise so quickly that his 1798 treatise says the geometric population growth could not keep pace with the arithmetic growth of cultivable land (p89) and that “premature death must…visit the human race”.   This static view fails to account for market adjustments. Growing populations => lower wages & higher food prices => innovations in food production => higher real wages / lower food prices…(cycle continues).

Smith’s purpose seems to be to show, if left alone, markets will adjust to meet consumer needs. Malthus’ purpose seems to foster panic to spur government intervention, or to reveal his ignorance about market dynamics, or both.  Neither, according to Robert Heilbroner, anticipated the role of affluence and urbanization on limiting the number of additional offspring born by the lower classes.  But the real lesson is how dynamic free markets allocate resources to enable human life to flourish.  What other system can do that?

Works Cited

  • Heilbroner, Robert L. The Worldly Philosophers: The Lives, Times, and Ideas of the Great Economic Thinkers. Rev. 7th ed. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1999. Print
  • Smith, Adam, and Edwin Cannan. An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. New York: Modern Library, 1994.

 

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Any Profit in the History of Economic Thought?

The study of history is a powerful antidote to contemporary arrogance. It is humbling to discover how many of our glib assumptions, which seem to us novel and plausible, have been tested before, not once but many times and in innumerable guises; and discovered to be, at great human cost, wholly false.

UK historian Paul Johnson

At first glance, the question of whether the history of economic thought has profit – a positive “net” of benefits versus costs – seems odd. Of course it does. Besides, as Ludwig von Mises once said about the question of who’s right – “logical economists” or “mathematical economists” – Mises suggested we let the market for ideas decide. However, after reading academic papers by George Stigler, Ken Boulding, Pete Boettke et al., the question has been transformed by the changes in my perspective.   In this paper, I will explain why my perspective changed, why I believe the history of economic thought is critical to future knowledge and I’ll provide one contemporary example that speaks to this issue.

Most of us are taught that history has much to teach us, but we’re also taught that all of us, even the great ones, stand on the shoulders of previous giants. Ken Boulding says Robert Merton gave this idea an acronym (OTSOG). Yes, Einstein was amazing, but even he stood on shoulders of Newton, Descartes, et al.  A major theme of The Prince is how much new princes should learn from great princes like Romulus, Cyrus, Theseus, and others. Machiavelli believed a great prince might surpass the ancients, but “man must always follow in the footsteps of great men and imitate those who have been outstanding” (19). Lord Keynes believed the “world is ruled by little else” than the ideas of economists and political philosophers and that these ideas are more powerful than the “power of vested interests”.   Yet, as Stigler and Boulding make clear, modern economics seems dominated by the “anti-historical school” that are not “interested in the wrong opinions of dead men”.   Boettke tells us “the mainstream of economic analysis has become occupied with excessively …unrealistic models…rather than a deeper historical and institutional knowledge”.  Stigler ends his article with a challenge, which Boettke echoed 45 years later, to inspire those who properly value the role of the history of economic thought to make a strong case, change minds and, in Boettke’s bold words, “reverse the degenerative path of the discipline”.

One of the implications of Whig arguments is that there’s something inherently superior – built in – about modern economics. Let me provide one counterfactual. My textbook for Intermediate Macroeconomics, written by Charles Jones (Stanford Graduate School of Business), was an older version (2006). On page 308, in a section called, “Case Study: Oil Prices and Inflation Shocks”, that included a graph of oil prices from 1978 – 2006, Jones said: “Most economists don’t believe the high inflation of the late 1970s and the large recession that followed are likely to occur.” As we know, no high inflation but the 2008 financial crisis, one of the worst recessions in U.S. history, followed shortly thereafter. This is not Jones fault – he’s simply passing along the consensus of modern “mainstream” economists in 2006. But they had it wrong – very wrong.

The point is that for 30 years, after rejecting Bolding’s argument that we have much to learn from past thinkers, mainstream economists ignored the great thinkers and got the 2008 recession wrong. Moreover, given Lord Keynes’ claim that the economic ideas of “academic scribblers” are hugely influential, is it possible that 2008 was caused by flawed “Whig” or mainstream thinking and research? I contend it’s not just possible, it’s probable. At the very least, it’s worthy of honest, objective research – research informed by the principles of great thinkers and pioneers like Adam Smith who showed us how to break through hundreds of years of mercantilism and establish a new paradigm, what Boettke called “the theory of markets” that laid the foundation for a system of “the 3 p’s of property, prices and profit/loss” (122) that has helped transformed the world and raised millions out of poverty. If Adam Smith was right about that, perhaps he’s right about a few other things?

Works Cited

  • Boettke, Coyne, and Leeson (2010), “Earw(h)ig: I Can’t Hear You Because Your Ideas are Old.
  • Boettke, Peter J. “What Should Classical Liberal Political Economists Do?” SSRN Journal SSRN Electronic Journal 25.1 (2014): 111-22. Constitutional Political Economy. Springer Science Business Media. Web. 17 May 2015.
  • Boulding, Kenneth E. (1971), “After Samuelson, Who Needs Adam Smith?”  History of Political Economy 3(2): 225-237.
  • Jones, Charles. Macroeconomics: Economic Crisis Update. 2E ed. New York: W. W. Norton, 2010. Print.
  • Mises, Ludwig. Human Action: The Scholar’s Edition. Hillsdale, MI: Hillsdale College, 2000. Print
  • Stigler George J. (1969), “Does Economics Have a Useful Past?” History of Political Economy 1(2): 217-230

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The Liberty Amendments – Virginia’s First!!

Mark Levin’s historic book – The Liberty Amendments (LA) – calls for a convention, under Article V, to consider proposing amendments for ratification by the states (My Take).   This profoundly important path forward, which all of U.S. inherited from our Founders, will impact our country and her politics in several ways.  The most obvious is how Levin’s amendments will constrain the federal government to bring it in line with the principles of self-government, inherent in the natural rights all human beings are entitled to, and will redistribute power from political elites to We The People.  For example, the Term Limits Amendment will help replace career politicians with patriots and constitutionalists.

However, there’s another layer – another profound impact of the process of advancing the Liberty Amendments – and that’s the impact on elections.  I’m a former project manager; I like to walk through new ideas step by step:

  1. To start, use social media and our networks to make LA a priority – already happening.
  2. Engage with willing state legislators, explain the idea and get them up to speed – the right ones will get excited, the wrong ones will be confused, indignant or agitated – focus on the right ones.
  3. Supportive state legislators will feature LA in their campaigns – setting themselves apart from their loser opponents that will struggle to make the case against self-government.
  4. Making LA part of campaigns effectively puts Freedom & Self-Government on the ballot; patriots will be drawn to the polls and elect like-minded individuals – black, white, man, woman, Republican, Libertarian or Democrat. Many of US don’t show up because we’ve lost any hope that our vote matters – why put our faith in yet another politician?  But voting for a Liberty Amendments supporter is different – it’s a vote for real change, real limits on federal power that will make a huge difference – arguably more than any other single act as a US citizen.
  5. However, the effect will not be limited to state races – how politicians running for Congress react to the Liberty Amendments will tell us a lot about who to trust and who to vote out.  As Levin warns, there will be a visceral reaction to these amendments from the statists.
  6. Bottom-line – this puts the national narrative back in the arena of ideas where we dominate – balanced budgets, fiscal discipline, taking power back from the ruling class.  Opponents will be forced to defend voter fraud, career politicians, record deficits and monstrous zero-accountability 1000 page bills.

Exciting, huh?  Can’t wait to get started?  Well, if you’re lucky enough to live in Virginia or New Jersey, with off-year state elections, we can put the Liberty Amendments on the ballot this year!! 

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The Liberty Amendments – Voter Campaign Finance

Back on July 10th, Mark Levin announced his new book Liberty Amendments, released August 13th, discusses a way forward for the millions of U.S. that are fed up with the President and leaders of both parties. Back on July 20th I described why these Amendments are needed, and the method for bringing them to life, in my blog post called, The Liberty Amendments – My Take. I encourage everyone to come up with their own but mine are listed in the post, The Liberty Amendments – My First Five.

Some of the five amendments, posted July 20th, are commonly discussed, some are my tweaks of popular amendments and some are straight up originals – like the Voter Campaign Finance (VCF) amendment, which I described this way:

Limit campaign contributions to those who are registered voters that can vote for the candidate. For example, I live in VA 5th Congressional District – Robert Hurt’s my congressman. If he ran for House, under this Amendment, he could only receive campaign contributions from registered 5th district voters (easily checked against existing voter rolls) – no unions, corporations, out-of-district fat cats, PACs, etc. If you don’t have a legal right to vote in 5th district, you can’t influence the 5th District election.

I came up with this idea about 18 months ago when I began to see more and more evidence how representatives pay more attention to donors than voters and considered alternatives?  Whenever limits on campaign finance are mentioned – the popular reaction is “that would never pass constitutional muster”. As such, I decided I’d keep the idea to myself and use it for a senior thesis or in graduate school – I’m a college student. However, when I heard Mark Levin bring up the Liberty Amendments idea & remind us the “answers are in the Constitution itself”, I knew exactly what he meant – Article V (imagine vocalizing the words “light bulb” in your best Gru voice from Despicable Me). If the problem with VCF is the constitutional issue, then passing a constitutional amendment, instead of an Act, effectively makes the VCF constitutional.

What are the impacts of the VCF Amendment? Well, I’m not an attorney or a political pro, so I’ll stick to the common sense impacts. First of all, our entire political system is based upon the integrity of votes – that each vote should be counted equally and fairly. I simply extend that logic to a meta-view of the influence on legislation. It makes no sense to make sure that each of our votes are counted equally, at the ballot box, only to allow them to be diluted when lawmakers pass laws to please donors over voters. For example, if my 5th District Representative is carefully weighing the wishes of his donors vs. his voters – the votes of the voters have already been diluted. A representative should only be concerned with what their voters want and not anyone or anything else.

Simple, if you don’t have a legal right to vote in 5th district, you shouldn’t be able to influence the 5th District election

Now consider, for a moment, the practical impacts of an amendment like the VCF. For example, if my Representative, Robert Hurt, is thinking about supporting the Senate Gang of 8 Amnesty legislation, why should he care about the opinion of Sheldon Adelson, a Las Vegas billionaire who supports Senate Amnesty? If Hurt gives Adelson’s donations any weight at all, my vote as his constituent has been effectively diluted. Post-VCF, Hurt would only consider the wishes of his voters, not Adelson – that’s how it should be. That’s just one example. VCF also ends the influence of unions and other out of state influence. In Hurt’s recent election, unions ran ads against him yet there’s no significant union presence in our district – the unions don’t care about that – they just want to change who’s in DC for federal legislation that affects them.

One of the great injustices of the last hundred years of the progressive cancer, has been the steady erosion of the states and the expansion of federal power. A big reason that has occurred is the influence of special interest groups – that are either concentrated in Washington DC or have significant representation there on “K” street. Imagine if all those lobbyists lose their financial influence? The result is a transfer of power from the moneyed interests of “K” Street and Wall Street all the way back to Main Street. In fact, not even Main Street, per se, because even local businesses will not be able to contribute to politicians – they can’t vote. Neither can universities or PACs or NOW or the Sierra Club or anyone else that is not registered to vote in my district.

Here in Virginia, we vote for our Governor in off-election years, so this fall we will choose who will lead this great Commonwealth – at least for four years. It’s an epic, ugly battle between Ken Cuccinelli, a Republican and the current & outstanding Virginia A.G., and Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat and the consummate DC insider who once left his baby-birthing wife to attend a campaign fundraiser. The August 8th headline of the Richmond Times Dispatch, says it all:

Out-of-state funds pouring into Virginia race for governor

Why? Why should people from outside the Commonwealth affect who our governor is? What do those donors expect in return? What if it’s different than what Virginians want – who wins? The Virginia Public Access Project tells us the gory details here, including the fact that McAuliffe raised $1.7 million just in the month of June, much of it from unions and the “DGA” of Democratic Governors Association – but who contributes to that group and if Mr. McAuliffe gets $2 million from the DGA – will he put their interest ahead of Virginia voters? Whatever doubts you might have about donor motivations, the people writing those big checks are very clear – Terry McAuliffe is expected to come through for them after the election.

As I’ve said, under VCF, those kinds of contributions and its effect on our policies would end. McAuliffe could attend the births of his children and politicians would be accountable to voters again – as it should be. Let me restate the simple logic of the VCF:

If you don’t have a legal right to vote in Virginia, you shouldn’t be able to influence the Virginia elections.

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The Liberty Amendments – My First Five

We’ve been begging our leaders for specifics on what to do to make a difference. Glenn Beck’s events (Restoring Honor, Courage & Love) represent a huge step towards getting our heads & hearts straight about the morality of our cause.  Others have also made contributions, but Levin’s proposal, The Liberty Amendments, deserves specific recognition – it is the first path to restore our founding ideals, based on the Constitution itself, that we can all contribute to, that has a realistic chance– if we pledge “our lives, our Fortunes, & our sacred Honor” to the success of the Liberty Amendments.

Our kids and our country deserve no less.

It will be a difficult climb but I believe the country is ready for a tangible solution to the threats our country faces. Make no mistake; we’re in a race against time and a ruthless progressive cancer. With a $17 trillion national debt, and $60 trillion more in unfunded liabilities, cities like Detroit going bankrupt and states like California threatening, we must right the American ship as soon as possible. Once a financial crisis occurs, it may be impossible to counter calls for a more powerful central government – especially if people go hungry or start blaming the usual suspects (capitalism, tea partiers, etc.)

One last comment before I summarize my ideas for the first five amendments. I believe it’s important for the leaders of our movement – we all have a different list, but mine would include, in addition to Levin, among others, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, Yaron Brook, Sen. Rand Paul (and his father Ron), Sen. Ted Cruz (& his father Rafael), Sen. Mike Lee, Mia Love , Rev C. L. Bryant, Walt Williams and 2008 GOP VP nominee Gov. Sarah Palin.

Everybody has different ways of contributing to the cause of freedom. I hope that all of them discuss Levin’s book, advance the idea and help pass the Liberty Amendments. Sometimes silos are created where no one wants to promote what their “competition” is doing – that must not happen.  I would encourage all of them to be generous with their comments and their air & face time.  However, so far, I haven’t heard one word of the idea, or Levin’s upcoming book, from these folks – perhaps they’re waiting for the book?

I first posted this (on another blog) back on July 20th – so, I thought it’s a mistake to wait. In fact, Levin’s idea motivated me to start blogging again for the first time in years. Now that his book is on sale – #1 Amazon bestseller, you can compare my ideas to his, but I hope and pray we will all be encouraged to come up with their own ideas – can there be too much engagement in the cause of freedom? Of course, Levin’s specific amendments will be very important, but just his idea has lit the torch – by urging us to look within the Constitution itself for how to repair our Constitutional Republic.

Everyone has ideas – my first five are listed below and I’ll follow-up with more details on each one – but the main thing is to jump in and start, time’s not on our side.

The Liberty Amendments – My First Five

1. Voter Campaign Finance (VCF)

  • Limit campaign contributions to those who are registered voters that can vote for the candidate. For example, I live in VA 5th Congressional District – Robert Hurt’s my congressman. If he ran for House, under this Amendment, he could only receive campaign contributions from registered 5th district voters (easily checked against existing voter rolls) – no unions, corporations, out-of-district fat cats, PACs, etc. If you don’t have a legal right to vote in 5th district, you can’t influence the 5th District election.

2. Balanced Budget Amendment (BBA)

  • Cut Cap & Balance (HR 2560) was a great idea that died in the corrupt halls of Harry Reid’s U.S Senate – but just barely (51Ds-46Rs) – a real life example of the wisdom of Levin’s idea – Congress will not reform itself, we must go around Congress. My twist on Cut Cap & Balance is this: Limit federal revenues to 18% GDP, spending to 17% GDP limit and the remaining 1% for debt relief and, after that, an “Emergency Fund”.
  • In case of war, Congress can authorize spending to exceed 18% only if two-thirds of Congress approves. The 1% of GDP (of the 18% collected for revenues) would go to pay down the national debt (about $16 Billion/yr at current GDP) and, once debt free (woohoo!!), use the 1% for an Emergency Fund – to pay for declared wars and disasters but only if two-thirds approve “withdrawals” – restoring Congress’ power to limit wars with their Constitutional funding power.

3. Term Limits

  • This has been around for a while but my version would limit service in Congress to just 12 years total. This could be three House terms (3×2=6) followed by a Senate term (1×6) or two Senate terms (2×6=12) or other combinations. The main idea is to not allow folks to make a career out of DC politics while allowing them enough time to be effective.

4. Law Limits

  • Obamacare was over 2700 pages long. The recent immigration bill was 1200 pages. Neither of these very devastating bills, that affect all of U.S., has been read by their supporters or detractors – that’s not a democracy, that’s a marketing campaign. Just vote on one or two issues at a time. I don’t know a specific # – others can work that out – but perhaps < 10 pages.

5. Pardon Accountability

  • Require Presidents to prioritize pardons (100 or less) and announce their last pardons at least 90 days before general election. Although an outgoing POTUS can’t be held accountable, voters can hold parties accountable. I predict the outrages from Obama’s pardons – both the # and who – will force this Amendment to top of list.

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