28 October 2014

The Course of Human Events

A comment over at Megan McArdle's Bloomberg blog got me wondering how many of the reasons given for rebelling against the King and declaring independence are also true today. So, with no further ado, the annotated causes of separation:
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good. I suppose this one is always true whenever the President vetoes a law (or Congress refuses to pass a law) that I believe is wholesome and necessary for the public good, like the "Give David $10 million a year for life law" that would contribute so much to the children. But in context I think it's fair to say that this is not a problem with our modern government. Our problem now is that they keep passing laws that torpedo the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them. Nope.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only. Nope.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures. If only.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people. Nope.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within. Again, sounds pretty good.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands. Hmmm. Yes, I suppose, although the President is trying.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers. Filibuster, anyone?

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries. This one has pretty much been fixed for Article 3 judges, but now the government has established so-called "administrative law judges" who have an awful lot of power and are executive branch employees. I'm going to score this one a "yes."

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance. Worse than ever.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures. Well, we have standing armies, but they are established with the consent of the legislature.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power. No, with the possible exception of the Army Corps of Engineers, but that's not the Army and not a Corps.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation. Yes, actually.

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us. Nope.

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States. Nope.

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world. Yep.

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent. Nope, with some relatively minor exceptions (and arguably Obamacare, which is not a minor exception).

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury. No, unless we count the pressure brought to bear on defendants to plead out, subject to harsher penalties after trial.

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences. GUANTANOMO!

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies. Perfidious Canada.

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments. Yes. Why exactly should unelected federal bureaucrats have the ability to overturn state law?

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever. Yes, at times, but actually I'm ok with that.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us. Only metaphorically, which doesn't really count.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people. Ditto.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation. Certainly their are Democrats who would agree with this one. (Or would have, six years ago.)

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands. No.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions. I'm tempted to make a joke about the Washington football team, but that would be in bad taste.
Not that bad, actually. I'm most surprised by the instances when I'm ok with our government acting like George III.