Even the Reagan Initiative is not enough. There should be a second Amendment Convention. A lot of people on the Task Force like the CoS approach — an open grant to propose limitations on the power of the federal government, including term limits. I used to agree. But now I think term limits must be off the table. It’s a separate subject. There are a significant number of state legislators, in key states, who oppose term limits. Some of these people are as conservative as I am. They have their opinion, and I respect it, even while I disagree. Term limits have proven to be essentially worthless in some states, such as California. Politically, the whole idea of term limits should be a completely separate subject. So CoS, which has only three states, is not the answer.
The Reagan Initiative is a very significant step in the direction of reining in the federal government. But a BBA can only be expanded so far. We have to be very careful about not exceeding the scope of the call. Tax reform is off the table. But tax reform, even more than regulatory reform, is what we need. The tax code is a national disgrace. A rational and fair system of taxation would be revolutionary, and not just economically. Freeing the American people from the clutches of the IRS would be a giant blow for liberty.
So, should we repeal the 16th Amendment, and thus abolish the IRS? No. It wouldn’t be prudent. Article V only works when there is a broad and bipartisan national consensus. Significant majorities of both Republicans and Democrats have to agree. I’m convinced the idea of tax reform has such support. But no specific proposal, such as a flat tax, or a consumption tax, has that level of public approval.
I’m suggesting something like reformation of the Internal Revenue Code. The language is critically important, and I haven’t thought this all the way through. We want to give the second Amendment Convention broad latitude, but we don’t want to scare the horses. How far can we go?
Right now, it’s impossible to say. Once the first Amendment Convention has finished its work and adjourned we should have a pretty good idea. The public perception of this Convention is almost as important as its work product. If the American people see a collection of state legislators working diligently, efficiently, openly and fairly, they will be willing to give the second Convention a broad grant of authority. If the Convention is seen as just another bunch of fighting politicians, such a grant is off the table. Comportment is the key. The delegates must comport themselves in a way to build the trust of the people. They will be engaged in very serious business. They have to act the part.
After the adjournment of the Convention its leaders should meet privately to discuss round two. If they can’t come to an immediate consensus they should form some sort of informal, ad hoc working group. These people need to stay in communication, in an effort to reach some kind of consensus. I don’t think there should be a formal organization. But lines of communication will have been established at and prior to the Convention, and they should be kept open.
I had four years of college and three of law school. Most of it was a waste of time, including all three years of law school. I learned a hell of a lot more about law in my summer of study for the bar exam than I did in law school. Law schools are unnecessary. Anyone ought to be able to take the bar exam and become a lawyer.
But college wasn’t a complete waste. I was able to get a coveted spot in an upper division poly sci class taught by Jacobus Ten Broek, a law professor at Boalt. I think he may have been the smartest man I’ve ever known. He was blind, from a childhood accident, and never saw any of his students. He conducted class using the Socratic method, asking questions, never answering them. There were about 60 of us, and he had a deck of 60 cards, in braille, one for each of us. He’d just ask us questions, and criticize our responses, but never offer an opinion of his own. In the hands of a Socrates, or a Jacobus Ten Broek, it works. I didn’t participate any more than anyone else, but he could tell I was different, a conservative. So he challenged me, just the way he challenged everyone. I loved that class, and I admired the hell out of Ten Broek, even though he was a liberal. I wanted to prove myself to him. One day, kind of out of the blue, he asked me if I hated criminals. I said, yes, I guess I do. There were audible gasps of disbelief. I had been revealed as a wretch. He asked me why, and I said because they attack the order upon which my safety depends. I waited, and waited, for the follow up question, but he was silent. I said, “Well?” I wanted his approval. But he didn’t say anything, and I walked out of class. I only got a “B” in that class, which was a little disappointing. Grades were based on essays, and mine didn’t measure up. They just weren’t that good. There were a lot of things I hadn’t figured out. But I don’t regret going to Cal, mainly because of that class.
After I graduated I got in some trouble, and reached out to Professor Ten Broek for help. I wasn’t sure if he’d remember me. He did, and gave me the help I needed He was a great and a good man.