Way back in Vent #521, in early ought-seven, I put out what I called a Quick and Dirty Position Paper, with a paragraph or so on each of several Burning Issues of the times, and hinted at the possibility of a Part II "somewhere down the line." That somewhere is here.
The pertinent clause of the 14th Amendment was intended to clear up any problems resulting from the abolition of slavery (and, it must be said, from the Dred Scott decision. The phrase "subject to the jurisdiction thereof" seems to be the kicker, since clearly not everyone on the premises at the time the Amendment was ratified was subject to such jurisdiction. The exceptions, as interpreted by Congress, were fairly narrow: the families of diplomats and the members of native tribes. In the 1898 Wong Kim Ark decision, the Supreme Court ruled that a child born of immigrant parents who were not diplomats or official representatives of their homeland was indeed a citizen under the 14th even though Wong's parents, under the Chinese Exclusion Act, could not apply for citizenship themselves. Calls for another amendment to amend the 14th are now being heard, inasmuch as we're supposedly being completely overrun by infants of Mexican extraction, and not even the most radical Reconstructionists would ever have permitted such a thing. Persuaded as I am that the Constitution says what it says, and not what we want it to say, we would indeed have to ratify another amendment to change the rules; however, were this as enormous a problem as we're being told, it could be addressed just as easily by getting the Feds to start enforcing their own immigration laws, a simple matter of replacing much of the Congress (a few months away). If enough of the Congress is replaced, we won't even have to wait for the replacement of the President. For the moment, therefore, put me down as a No on amending the 14th Amendment.
That mosque in the dust of Ground Zero:
It was hardly surprising that the President would embrace this project, though I really didn't expect him to invoke property rights as a justification for so doing. (And I don't ever expect him to mention property rights ever again, given his attitude toward eminent domain, which boils down to "Hey, I'm the most eminent one here, so it must be my domain.") I think we can be reasonably certain that the resulting structure will spit in the eyes of New Yorkers, and that Mayor Bloomberg won't care so long as that spit does not contain an excessive quantity of salt. I still say we should let 'em build the damned thing. Property rights, y'know. But we might want to drop a few hints to the effect that Americans will put up with a great deal, but we have our limits, and they might want to keep their marauding jihadis out of sight for the next several centuries, because a lot of bad things can happen to a nice building in the City of New York, you know what I mean?
The "lame-duck" session:
Too bad it won't fit on a T-shirt: "Yes, you were justified in voting against us, and we just proved it."
The corporate income tax:
There isn't a lot of sentiment in favor of dumping the whole idea once and for all. Various arguments have been presented, to the effect that it really doesn't bring in all that much money; that the cost of enforcing compliance is so high that the net gain is zero, or even less; that all of it is passed on to consumers anyway, and therefore it costs the company nothing; that it encourages outsourcing, especially offshore outsourcing. None of these have been able to sell the premise, and probably neither will this: If there is no tax to be paid, there is no need for the endless pas de deux between lobbyists and Congress, trying to engineer tax breaks for a favored few. Still, this strikes me as the argument most likely to resonate with the electorate, which can't stand either Congress or lobbyists, so I have no qualms about putting it up here. And if you look at this and think "Couldn't this apply just as well to the personal income tax?" I will just smile knowingly.
15 August 2010