As a conservative with libertarian tendencies – at least at the Federal level, I believe in limited government. Some of my liberal friends would say I believe in hogtied government. Why? The short answer is that the less power the government has, the greater the freedom individuals have.
While it has been said that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance, there are some changes in laws that would help put a damper on expansion of government. Since taxation is one of the ways the government limits freedom, let’s start with the tax code. The US tax code encompasses thousands of pages of text, and the IRS publishes thousands more pages “explaining” the tax code. Companies and individuals collectively spend millions of hours computing their taxes. I propose a constitutional amendment along the following lines:
The entire tax code of the United States shall require no more than (say) 100 pages of 8.5 X 11 paper, printed in 11 point type with 1 inch margins all around. It shall be comprehensible by a 6th grader of average intelligence. The burden of proof shall rest with the government. It shall be possible to prepare one’s tax return using only the tax code. The burden of proof shall rest with the government.
A second amendment would do much to reduce the volume of laws passed by Congress:
The entire US code shall require no more than (say) 1000 pages of 8.5 X 11 paper, printed in 11 point type with 1 inch margins all around. It shall be comprehensible by a 6th grader of average intelligence. The burden of proof shall rest with the government.
What happens when the entire quota is filled up? In order to pass a new law, Congress would have to repeal enough old laws to make space for the new law. In addition to keeping the body of law reasonably compact and concise, this would help eliminate obsolete and archaic laws, as well as slow down Congress’ deliberation. To paraphrase Mark Twain, I feel safer on days when Congress passes fewer laws.
Two additional changes that would reduce waste and favoritism would be
1. A Constitutional amendment requiring each bill to address a single subject. This would virtually eliminate earmarks and help limit the size of bills.
2. A line item veto. This would enable the President to eliminate provisions in a bill that don’t address the bill’s single subject.