Monday, December 8, 2008

ARE BAILOUTS UNCONSTITUIONAL?

Hold on there, America. Has anybody stopped fretting about the economy long enough to read the supreme law of the land?

700 billion for the banks. 32 billion for the auto companies. More billions for homeowners who are in foreclosure. Did Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and James Madison have this kind of law making in mind?

I don't think so.

Article I, Secton 8 of the federal Constituton provides that the Congress shall have the power to pass "uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcy throughout the United States."

"Uniform laws" ?? What does that mean? Does it mean that the law must treat everybody the same? Sure sounds like it.

Are bailout laws uniform? Does Congress treat auto companies the same as airlines? Or appliance dealers?

Can it really be argued that a bailout law is not a law on the subject of bankruptcy and therefore doesn't have to be uniform? Come on. What are the talking heads telling us? What is the President saying? Nancy Pellosi, what does she say? When they scream about the auto companies shutting down in 30 or 60 days, when they point with alarm to the prospect of millions of jobs being lost, what else are they saying except that the car companies are insolvent? Bankrupt. Kapute. Going down the tube.

The wise statesmen (Remember when we had those?) who drafted our Constitution knew that hard times come for many businesses and many people. There were bankruptcy laws in England which applied to the colonies. Nothing new there. But in a federal government, comprised of separate sovereign states, it made sense to give the power to pass bankruptcy laws to the central government rather than to the states.

And why? So that all Americans would be treated the same when they went belly up. If the men in Philadelphia in 1789 had wanted New York bankers and Detroit auto makers to be treated differently than other citizens when they went broke, they would not have used the word "uniform."

Uniform means uniform. Let's not read it out of the Constitution or allow our politicians and our judges to ignore it.

And by the way, the same section of the Constitution which specifies uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcy also empowers Congress to enact unifom naturalization laws.

Makes you wonder how Congress can offer a special short cut to citizenship for some folks who are here illegally, doesn't it?

1 comment:

  1. The bailouts of 2008 are the slippery slope, indeed. "We the people" = "we the unwilling stockholders of poor performing companies".

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