Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tax powers gone wild
Tom Smith

Here's a good post on the tax power over at the VC.  Surely David Kopel must be correct.  The tax power can't be infinite or there's no such thing as limited government.

But if we are to start taxing things wildly, I propose a tax on utterances by Constitutional scholars that are intended to be inspirational but end up just being obscure, with a ten percent penalty on top if they are from Yale.  To wit:

Finally, as Jack Balkin has ably argued, “Constitutional change occurs because Americans persuade each other about the best meaning of constitutional text and principle in their own time. These debates and political struggles help generate Americans’ investment in the Constitution as their Constitution and they create a platform for the possibility – but not the certainty of its redemption in history.”
My question is, what does it mean to "create a platform for the possibility but not the certainty of its [the investment in the Constitution as Constitution's?] redemption in history"?  The appropriate response to this claim might thus be, huh?  I concede I am not 100 percent sure what it means to invest in the Constitution as Constitution, or frankly even what would be involved in investing in the Constitution full stop, or in investing in the Constitution as something other than as a Constitution, for example, as an annuity or a maybe a reverse mortgage.  Redemption could be good, as in, I pray that my soul shall be redeemed.  But if on the other hand I could be liquidated at twice what my redemption price is, I would hope not to be redeemed.  In short, I have no idea what Professor Balkin is talking about.  But I am sure that no talk of redemption is going to make me comfortable with Congress saying to every adult in the country, you must buy X!  If somebody wants to sell me something, redeemable or not, I like to be one deciding whether to buy it, especially if the thing being sold is, if I may wax poetic, a load of baloney.  And even more especially if it is a load of baloney wrapped in a spiritual, historical, world-transmorgifying, hopey-changer wrapper, which is what I take the whole phenomenon of Obamaism to be (if it is not something even more sinister).  Or put another way, I know that my Redeemer liveth, and the Congress of the United States or their President, he ain't.  Indeed, I fear investing in the Constitution for future redemption in history may (and I stress may, for I don't know) mean, in plain terms, "let's say the Constitution means something it doesn't and allows something it doesn't, in the hope that someday it will all work out really well."  Granted, redemption sounds better, but however it sounds, I don't think I like it.  Hence my proposal for taxing the obscure utterances of law professors.  I should perhaps go further, and propose the taxing of their failure to say sensible things, but I have my principles to think of.

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Tom Smith
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Comments

"let's say the Constitution means something it doesn't and allows something it doesn't, in the hope that someday it will all work out really well."

See, you knew what Balkin was saying after all....

Posted by: Bill | Mar 23, 2010 10:53:38 AM

Balkin is one of those types who likes to strike this thoughtful pose to disguise his whoring for whatever it is leftists want to do but find the Constitution unobliging. The political prostitution of it all would be nauseating if I hadn't become used to the smell. He's like this generation's Bruce Ackerman or Ronald Dworkin. Whenever you need some legal sleight of hand to dress up your unconstitutional agenda just call 1-800-Jack-633.

Posted by: john knox | Mar 23, 2010 4:07:32 PM

"let's say the Constitution means something it doesn't and allows something it doesn't, in the hope that someday it will all work out really well."

Posted by: Supra Skytop 2 Red | Mar 24, 2010 9:33:36 PM