A Radical Centrist Vision for the Future > List of Amendments > Governance
5.1 Public Employment
Federal employment in government agencies of any and all kinds shall ONLY be on the basis of merit and achievement. Seniority may be considered in promotions but only as a lesser factor compared with competence and achievement. This Amendment effectively terminates the Civil Service system.
There shall be no preferences in hiring or promotion or any other consideration on the basis of race, ethnic origin, gender, or the like. The government may not discriminate on such grounds, either. There shall be basic educational requirements with no allowance for cultural or sub-cultural factors such as language skills, or lack thereof, nor for not knowing basic facts about American history, government, appropriate law, etc., as determined by the House of Representatives.
5.2 Government Solvency
The Article III definition of Treason shall be expanded to also include Conspiracies to render the Government of the United States insolvent by the abusive assumption or issuance of knowingly unpayable debt. This shall mean that any and all economic theories which have the effect of increasing Federal debt levels beyond reason shall be regarded as grossly irresponsible and unacceptable in counsels of government. In terms of current theories as of 2011- 2012, both Keynesian and laissez faire (so-called “Supply Side”) theories should have no standing in any discussions of the budget, or indebtedness, or related matters.
Debts incurred in bad faith constitute a Social-Contract-breaking crime under this Constitution and thus it is illegal for the Government of the People of the United States to honor such destructive disingenuous obligations. Because of international obligations which the nation has a moral responsibility to honor, current indebtedness shall be assumed but only with the proviso that repayments must be renegotiated such that the amount of debt service in the Federal Budget for any given year is less than 15% of the total.
This Amendment is intended to compel the Government to seek new economic theory which has genuine prospect of extricating the nation from its debt burdens and from then on keeping the Government solvent.
To expedite the purposes of this Amendment:
The Federal Reserve shall be subject to impartial audit annually, the results made available to the Congress, the Executive, and the press and other news media within 7 days of completion. This audit shall be conducted during a period of 30 days, the exact schedule to be determined by Congress through simple majority vote.
Article I Section 8 shall be amended from “To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;”
shall now read:
“To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and to encourage,ease and constructively facilitate in the most limited sense, Commerce among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;”
This Amendment is derived from a recommendation by Vince Pak in October, 2010, entitled “Restoration of the Republic Amendment.” Some of his original wording has been used here, verbatim. But the original proposal is sometimes wildly radical– in a negative sense– and demands such things as abolition of the Federal Reserve and of the Amendments ratified in the early 20th century, except for number XIX, which otherwise the author regards as treasonous. That is, Pak is a hard core libertarian and a government minimalist. He also demands that the Federal Debt should be repudiated, an action that could only result is a national and global economic crisis. Much of what he said cannot be taken seriously.
HOWEVER, his point about the gross irresponsibility of government –by both major political parties– is well taken, indeed. The point is conceded that such irresponsibility rises to the level of treason. This said, the libertarian economic remedy is irresponsible in its own right since the practical effect of unregulated capital is technology transfer which has thrown away many of America’s advantages in the economic marketplace for the sake of short term gain, massive off-shoring and flight of jobs to low-standard-of-living nations elsewhere, and which has jeopardized national security because many libertarians are essentially isolationist and often don’t particularly care about such things and primarily care about the bottom line. This Amendment seeks to address the legitimate grievances in Pak’s suggestion while eliminating everything in his proposal that is unjustifiable.
5.3 National Budget Deadline
Members of Congress shall forfeit their salary on a per diem basis for each day beyond expiration of the final day of any fiscal year that a National Budget is not passed. Congress may not vote in favor of a continuing resolution to defer passage of a budget, nor use any other means to postpone doing so. The only allowable exceptions are in case of national emergency in time of declared war –or real danger of threat of catastrophic economic collapse, such danger to be announced by the Secretary of the Treasury and the Chair of the Federal Reserve Board and confirmed by the President
5.4 National Budget Restriction
No Social Security Trust Fund monies may be used to make up for shortfalls in the National Budget or otherwise be drawn upon for budgetary purposes unless agreement to this effect passes the House of Representatives by a 3/4ths majority.
5.5 Unfunded Mandates and Conditions on Spending
Congress shall not impose on any state or territory, or subdivisions thereof, any obligation or duty to make expenditures unless such costs are reimbursed in a reasonable time by the Federal Government. Exceptions are allowable only when passed by a 2/3rds majority vote in both Houses of Congress.
Furthermore, Congress shall not place any condition on monies received from the Federal Government which require a state, territory, or subdivision, to enact a law or regulation restricting the liberties of its citizens, especially in reference to the First Amendment, but including all other parts of the Constitution.
Originally suggested by David Block
5.6 Responsible National Budget
A two-thirds majority shall be necessary for any tax increase. Deficit legislation shall also require a two-thirds majority. Budgeting claims for any legislation shall be falsifiable such that estimated revenues or estimated expenditures can be objectively assessed by independent agencies outside of Government. All proposed legislation which cannot pass budget feasibility tests should be disallowed on principle. A minimum of 25 % any annual budget surplus shall be used to reduce the nation’s debt, with a recommendation for a 50% minimum, until such time as the budget is in some approximation of balance.
Explanation: The objective of a balanced budget is the ideal sought by this Amendment, but with recognition of the fact that such an outcome may not be possible -and may not be, more often than not. However, this Amendment is intended to make it difficult, in extremis, for political partisans to make unsustainable claims for bills that a majority party may enact despite unrealistic budgeting estimates which have the effect of increasing the National Debt. All proposed legislation which cannot pass budget feasibility tests should be disallowed on principle. By making super-majorities necessary for tax increases this Amendment also seeks to create conditions of maximum Government responsibility with the people’s money.
5.7 Limits on Entitlements
All Entitlements shall be regarded as founded on the principle of insurance as it is found in the private sector. All citizens who earn incomes shall pay into Entitlement programs as mandated by Congress, but only those in actual need shall receive benefits. This works well for insurance companies and there are few complaints based on principle, and there seldom are ethical problems with this system.
All Entitlements shall be means tested. Congress, with approval of the President, shall establish limits for eligibility for each Entitlement program. But the principle is easy to understand. Millionaires do not need entitlement resources, people with middle incomes do not need more than modest amounts, and those living at or below the poverty line need entitlements the most because their survival depends upon such resources.
Congress shall establish limits, based on some form of sliding scale, by simple majority, but may change these limits when new circumstances warrant it. The Supreme Court is hereby empowered to hear appeals to these limits if plaintiffs of standing can make a compelling case that limits unfairly disadvantage classes of people.
This is in no way intended to provide Entitlement benefits to the wealthy through stratagems which circumvent the spirit of this Amendment. While it may be true that the wealthy also paid into the system they also, as their abundance testifies, were especially well-rewarded by the system in the form of security provided by the state, recourse to legal counsel that many others cannot afford, hence ability to take advantage of opportunities unavailable to others, and through political influence which wealth confers, which is also not usually available to those who have limited means.
It is unseemly for the rich to demand benefit when they have superfluous resources to pay for services which the less fortunate must depend upon for survival. Means testing is the fairest way to distribute Entitlement benefits, especially given the fact that the nation does not have access to unlimited resources and has the responsibility to distribute benefits but without jeopardizing the solvency of the Federal budget.
5.8 With Wealth Comes Responsibility
Let us limit the conversation to the actually rich, millionaires and billionaires. Nearly all discussions on the subject of higher tax rates for the wealthy miss an essential point. Yes, there is a valid argument about not raising rates on $ 250,000 wage earners. But the well-off are not the actually wealthy.
Probably most people in the “well-off” category do invest in the private sector with the net result being more jobs. While this is not true in every case, it is true enough. Also, no-one can fairly claim that the simply well-off have much more political leverage than anyone else. For that you need to be wealthy.
Which is the point. The rich have public policy leverage, they not only vote in elections, they –in effect– control votes in the Congress, plus all 50 state houses. And it is because of the protections given them by government that they were able to get rich in the first place.
Take the same people and exile them to any third world country you can name and how rich would they now be?
In the USA, wealth buys access to political power which is simply unavailable to all others. The rich, in effect, have tens of thousands of votes each, if not hundreds of thousands of votes each, and wield political power accordingly. Not to account for this disparity in political leverage between the rich and everyone else is neither fair nor true to democratic principles.
It is impossible to claim that a millionaire or billionaire is equal in political power to John Q Public in Podunk or Pittsburgh. The rich make a major difference in, among other things, ensuring the continuation of disastrous free trade policies –which is mostly bi-partisan and supported for the same reason in each major party, the backing of the rich. After all, free trade benefits the rich more than all others, and essentially screws the rest of us.
Then we get to the rich who are part of defense and other massive industries. While it may be the fact that the products they produce are useful, the fact also is that they have leverage no-one else can dream about, namely, the power to persuade law makers to set things up in such a way that their industries are virtually guaranteed major markets.
In other words, the price the rich should pay for such access to power are the tax rates they should pay. Despite political rhetoric, the problem is not families who earn $ 250,000 –the issue concerns the mega-rich. The result of only modest tax rates for the ultra wealthy is increased national debt. Which neither major party has any inclination to remedy. Wall Street massively finances both parties and leading members of Congress fall madly in love with each millionaire or billionaire they meet, as does each and every president.
For these reasons an Amendment is needed which requires the super-rich to pay their fair share of the national tax burden. While a maximum rate of 25 % is low by international standards, it can be made fair by eliminating all (all) other ” tax breaks.” This includes investments in stocks and bonds, in real estate, in “financial instruments,” deductions, and so forth, exact details to be determined by a chastened Congress. The Congress must be chastened –exposed for what they have been for far too long, slaves to Big Money– before it can be trusted to do the right thing.
Furthermore, this Amendment dissolves and renders null and void the “Citizens United” Supreme Court decision which asserted that a corporation has the same legal rights as a “person.” Such a viewpoint is an absurdity. Neither corporations nor labor unions nor any other organization can claim personhood status. The effect of that ruling was to further enhance the political power of the wealthy and that cannot be tolerated in a democracy.
Ratification of this Amendment will make this clear to the Court.
5.9 Limits on Regulations and Secrets
There shall be as few regulations enacted into law as possible so that businesses are not burdened with impediments to their success. Hereafter, all regulations passed into law in any given year shall, in total, not exceed the equivalent 250 pages. This refers to a normal size scholarly book set in 12 point Times New Roman font.
It is the responsibility of Congress to edit regulations of the past, extending back 50 years from the date of ratification of this Amendment. The regulations for no past year shall exceed 250 pages. Congress shall have one 2 year period to accomplish this task
Prior to deletion of any regulation the recommendation to void it shall be published for public comment and possible reconsideration.
There shall be as few official government secrets as possible. It shall be the responsibility of the Executive to organize a system to remove various documents from classification as “secret” to the extent that, by volume, all civilian secrets for any give year shall not exceed the equivalent of one 250 page book.
Civilian secrets of all past years shall likewise be limited to the equivalent of one 250 page book in total extent. This is required for all years extending back 50 years from the time of ratification of this Amendment.
Military secrets shall likewise be limited but only on recommendation of the Secretary of Defense in consultation with the Joint Chiefs of Staff and appropriate Intelligence agencies such as the CIA, FBI, NSA, and Homeland Security. Because of national security considerations as many as 1000 pages of military secrets may be maintained for each past year, with no limit on the current year, nor any limitation during the duration of a declared war nor for a period of 10 years following its conclusion. An extension for an additional decade may be granted, on condition of major reduction of the number of secrets, upon recommendation of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, heads of intelligence agencies, or the President.
5.10 Criminal and National Security Profiling
Law enforcement officers shall have the right to profile suspects for all crimes where hard statistical evidence indicates that one or more racial or ethnic or other population groups do, in fact, disproportionately commit the clear majority of crimes by specific category.
Furthermore, although there may be exceptions, various categories of crimes or threats to national security involve specific population groups of different kinds. The Federal Government is hereby empowered to profile members of any group determined to include a disproportionate number of likely criminals or security threats. States may wish to adopt such provisions for identical purposes. This Amendment requires common sense in setting at-risk standards and should exclude for screening purposes members of groups at low risk.
Explanation: It is absurd not to recognize the obvious, to use a contemporary example, the preponderance of Muslim males between the ages of 17 and 40 as most likely to pose security risks on airline flights. At the same time, low risk airline passengers do not merit intensive screening, for instance, mothers with young children, the elderly, and the infirm. This applies to other modes of transportation, it includes admission to specific venues unrelated to transit, and admission to employment in government agencies and, in any case, applies generally.
Moreover, as pointed out in a Daniel Huff article in The Daily Caller for December 11, 2010, particular groups are known to commit various types of crimes far more than other groups. For example, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 1996 decision, made the assumption that all population groups are approximately equally likely to commit any type of crime by category, an assumption which is demonstrably false. For that Court to base its decision of faulty reasoning is inexcusable and places all law-abiding citizens at needless risk. After all, as observed in a Supreme Court opinion cited in the article, according to:
“the most recent statistics of the United States Sentencing Commission….. [m]ore than 90% of the persons sentenced in 1994 for crack cocaine trafficking were black, 93.4% of convicted LSD dealers were white and 91% of those convicted for pornography or prostitution were white. Presumptions at war with presumably reliable statistics have no proper place in the analysis of this issue.”
This Amendment is necessary due to the prevalence of Political Correctness and Multi-Cultural ideology in halls of power in many places in America, to the extent that even the definitive views of the nation’s highest court are sometimes overlooked or ignored. As well, the mass media often seems to assume that its values take precedence over the values enshrined in American Law. Such flagrant disregard for Constitutional precedence cannot be allowed to stand.
As the article continued: “…in 2008, in the first post-9/11 case to address the issue, government lawyers argued that Arab ethnicity was relevant to establishing probable cause because “all of the persons who participated in the 9/11 terrorist attacks were Middle Eastern males.”
The district court disagreed, saying, “even assuming … that a large proportion of would-be anti-American terrorists are Arabs, the likelihood that any given airline passenger of Arab ethnicity is a terrorist is so negligible that Arab ethnicity has no probative value…”
“The error in that argument is that it is equally true of non-Arabs and non-Muslims, so why check anyone?” TSA’s costly, cumbersome security apparatus is predicated on the belief that terrorists are trying to infiltrate airports. Accordingly, the relevant statistic is not the probability that a random Muslim traveler is a terrorist, which is, of course, small. Rather, its what statisticians call the conditional probability: Given that a terrorist is attempting to penetrate airport security, what is the probability that he is Muslim? That figure is much higher.”
“Since the 9/11 attack that spawned TSA, most, if not all, attempted airplane bombings have been perpetrated by individuals claiming to act in the name of Islam. This result is consistent with the suspect profile provided by bin Laden, who characterized would-be bombers as “soldiers of Allah.”
Scanners or other technology cannot be the only answer, and in many cases may be almost useless. However, “the TSA cannot rely on religious profiling alone [ or any other single profiling factor ]. A passenger’s religion is not always obvious. Even… indicators like name and nationality might miss radicalized converts like shoe bomber Richard Reid who traveled under his English name. To account for such cases, profiling must be used in concert with existing screening protocols including random checks.”
It should be noted that in different circumstances in the past high risk population groups included Germans, Japanese, Cubans, Russians and East Europeans. In the future it may involve new population groups. The Government needs to have the ability to screen people from identified risk groups as circumstances require. Theories based on multi-cultural values, or the like, may be worthy in principle and may deserve to be discussed, but in no circumstances should ideological considerations compromise national security or impede the work of law enforcement officials, including border patrol agents, Coast Guard personnel, or immigration officials.
5.11 Immigration-Law Enforcement
When the Federal Government, in the judgement of leading elected officials of any state, is unwilling to fully enforce Federal laws which limit immigration, a state has the right to do so itself. Further, in the absence of full Federal enforcement of immigration laws, individual states have the right to pass laws of their own to facilitate enforcement of Federal Law, or to enforce laws of their own which are similar to Federal Law and have the same purposes.
5.12 State Bills of Rights
Each state shall have the prerogative of enacting a Bill of Rights to specify rights and responsibilities for its permanent residents. Inasmuch as any state Bill of Rights is hereby sanctioned by an Amendment to the US Constitution it shall be “constitutional” with no possibility of challenge. in any Federal Court.
This Amendment presumes that no state legislature responsible for enacting a Bill of Rights shall approve of rights that contravene provisions of the extant Constitution or its Amendments. This being the case, no provisions of any state Bill of Rights may be overturned unless by a super majority in Congress of at least 2/3rds of all members of the Senate. This presumes that presently unanticipated additional Amendments to the nation’s Constitution in the future may require modification of state bills of rights even if, ideally, this will never happen.
Workers and Employers Bill of Rights
Provisions which defend workers may include protection from termination only for “just cause, ” viz, failure to perform job duties, but with right of appeal, and for such things as offensive lifestyle choices or blatant immorality. This limits cases to such things as gross obesity, illegal drug use, participation in illegal sexual activity, undisclosed medical condition which could jeopardize one’s safety or result in repeated absence from work.
Employers shall have the right to restrict hiring to people who agree to codes of conduct such as promise not to take part in dangerous past-times like hang gliding, or the like, or such things as not belonging to a subversive political group, such as being too old or too young for certain types of work, such as willingness to take part in company medical programs that require vaccinations or the like, and appearance –clothing choices, etc., — that is detrimental to the image which a company seeks to maintain for itself.
Other provisions may include the right of an employee to be promoted on the basis of merit whatever anyone else’s seniority may be, the right of an employee to safe workplace conditions, the right not to be asked to work in hazardous conditions such as in a storage freezer, unless such conditions are agreed to beforehand and compensated with extra pay. Tenants and Landlords Bills of Rights
Tenants may be protected from excessive late fees, for example, or withholding return of security deposits beyond seven days. Landlords may be protected from any tenant who signs a lease who has withheld or falsified necessary information, or from claims against abandoned property left on the premises after moving out which is later sought for return, beyond a reasonable time.
Consumer Bill of Rights
An excellent article on the subject can be found in the Wikipedia article on the subject.This dates back to the JFK administration when Kennedy spoke before Congress in 1962, advocating four such imperatives:
(1) The Right to Safety
(2) The Right to Be Informed
(3) The Right to Choose
(4) The Right to Be Heard
Much has happened since that time, with other consumer rights proposed. What clearly is also needed is a counterpart set of rights for business owners, for example, not to be harassed by frivolous lawsuits or threat of such lawsuits. You would think that consumers also have responsibility for the behavior of their kids, or for dressing appropriately in a store, with management free to ask people wearing garments which could well harm business to leave.
Patient’s Bill of Rights
Following is a model of a special interest Bill of Rights. It has the virtues of clarity and brevity; it is free of legalese language. This is the:
Consumer Bill of Rights and Responsibilities published in 1998 by the US Advisory Commission on Consumer Protection and Quality in the Health Care Industry, popularly referred to as the “Patient’s Bill of Rights.”
This is the exact wording: The Patient’s Bill of Rights was created to try to reach 3 major goals:
1. To help patients feel..confident in the US health care system; the Bill of Rights:
Assures that the health care system is fair and it works to meet patients’ needs Gives patients a way to address any problems they may have Encourages patients to take an active role in staying or getting healthy
2. To stress the importance of a strong relationship between patients and their health care providers
3. To stress the key role patients play in staying healthy by laying out rights and responsibilities for all patients and health care providers
This Bill of Rights also applies to the insurance plans offered to federal employees. Many other health insurance plans and facilities have also adopted these values. Even Medicare and Medicaid stand by many of them.
The 8 key areas of the Patient’s Bill of Rights
Information for patients
You have the right to accurate and easily-understood information about your health plan, health care professionals, and health care facilities. If you speak another language, have a physical or mental disability, or just don’t understand something, help should be given so you can make informed health care decisions.
Choice of providers and plans
You have the right to choose health care providers who can give you high-quality health care when you need it.
Access to emergency services
If you have severe pain, an injury, or sudden illness that makes you believe that your health is in danger, you have the right to be screened and stabilized using emergency services. You should be able to use these services whenever and wherever you need them, without needing to wait for authorization and without any financial penalty.
Taking part in treatment decisions
You have the right to know your treatment options and take part in decisions about your care. Parents, guardians, family members, or others that you choose can speak for you if you cannot make your own decisions.
Respect and non-discrimination
You have a right to considerate, respectful care from your doctors, health plan representatives, and other health care providers that does not discriminate against you.
Confidentiality (privacy) of health information
You have the right to talk privately with health care providers and to have your health care information protected. You also have the right to read and copy your own medical record. You have the right to ask that your doctor change your record if it is not correct, relevant, or complete.
Complaints and appeals
You have the right to a fair, fast, and objective review of any complaint you have against your health plan, doctors, hospitals or other health care personnel. This includes complaints about waiting times, operating hours, the actions of health care personnel, and the adequacy of health care facilities.
The document goes on to say that patients need to take responsibility for their own health in various ways, such as good diet and exercise. As well, ” patients are expected to do things like treat health care workers and other patients with respect, try to pay their medical bills, and follow the rules and benefits of their health plan coverage.” Further information can be obtained from the American Hospital Association.
Other categories and considerations:
Included might be, depending on the state, rights of property owners who live near international border areas, rights of boat owners and harbor authorities, rights of visitors to state parks, etc., as well as their responsibilities, and so forth. The purpose of such bills of rights must not be to inspire litigation, even if this may be a last-resort course of action, but to educate people to their responsibilities with respect to each other.
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