The Confederate Constitution Actually Had A Lot Going For It

Everyone knows that the Confederacy was that evil part of the country that saw no problem with owning people. But it wasn't all bad, especially when it came to their Constitution.

If you read the Confederate Constitution, although most of it is copied verbatim, there are several areas that differ significantly from ours. Slavery, of course, was made legal subject to the same limitations on importation of any new slaves. But a separation of State and Economy got the most new changes and limitations on the government.

It explicitly banned their federal government from favoring any branch of industry in any way via duties or taxes on imports.

It required a 2/3 vote for approval of federal appropriations outside of a limited list of purposes as well as for taxes or duties on exports.

It required appropriations to have specific line item amounts for specific purposes and banned any additional payments to anyone after the initial contract had been made or services rendered.

It gave the President a line item veto on expenditures.

It most forcefully banned Congress from appropriating any money for the facilitation of commerce aside from a very few specific cases involving water transportations such as buoys, lighthouses and dredging, and, even in those, duties were to be laid on the navigation that got those improvements until they were paid for.

It made the Post Office pay for itself after the first two years.

It also made a Constitutional Convention easier to call for, requiring only three states instead of our 3/4. It limited the number of people any one Representative in the House could represent to 50,000. It gave the President the power to remove any department head or anyone in the diplomatic service. It also incorporated the Bill of Rights almost verbatim into the Constitution itself.

One of my favorites was getting rid of general omnibus bills: "Every law, or resolution having the force of law, shall relate to but one subject, and that shall be expressed in the title."

Except, of course, for the issue of slavery, I approve of almost all of them. They were almost all additional and explicit limitations on the power of the government in areas that our Constitution over the previous 70 years was found to be lacking in actual practice. Of all of the changes, only the slavery one was changed in ours.

Lincoln's issue, the succession itself, has never been addressed. There never was any ban on it. In fact Texas, which used to be an independent nation on its own, explicitly wrote into the agreement when it joined the US that it reserved the right to secede.

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The Well-Regulated Definition

The phrase “Well-Regulated” is so long out of use that dictionaries no longer cover it as a phrase. Since the word “regulated,” in common (non-scientific) usage requires an external regulator, many people assume that a well regulated militia requires an outside regulator, i.e. the government.

However there are examples of it in usage at the time which gives us, in a way, an even better definition.

  • If a liberal Education has formed in us well-regulated Appetites and worthy Inclinations.
  • A remissness for which I am sure every well-regulated person will blame the Mayor.
  • It appeared to her well-regulated mind, like a clandestine proceeding.
  • The advantage of living a well-regulated life was never better illustrated than in the person of his brother Andrew. — “The Prodigal Father” by J. Storer Clouston
  • He has led a well-regulated life, but his virtues are narrow and petty. — “Prescott of Saskatchewan” by Harold Bindloss
  • Lord Byron’s mind was as well regulated as it was powerful. — “My Recollections of Lord Byron” by Teresa Guiccioli
  • And the one I ran across while reading Mary Wollstonecraft’s “A Vindication Of The Rights Of Women” — … the harmonious propriety that attunes the passions of a well-regulated mind, that I blush …

It referred to something being in proper working order or was associated with self control. Something that was well-regulated was functioning as expected. Government control of the people’s arms was not only NOT what was meant by the phrase in the 2nd amendment, it was the opposite. Arms under the self control of the militia (which was the entire body of the populace capable of bearing arms) is what was necessary to keep government under control.

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Mental Health – Legitimate Cause Or Just An Excuse…

Portrait of a patient, Surrey County AsylumOnce again, with the latest mass murder, we get the standard mental heath arguments. Either “He should have been locked up in a mental ward.” or “It wasn’t his fault. He was mentally ill.” or both.

The reason we have so few in the mental health hospitals now were the demands to stop any sort of involuntary commitment unless it could be proven that a person was an immediate danger to himself or those around him and as soon as he might even possibly be judged to be recovered from that acute state he would be released.

It was an over reaction to a system that was abused, where too many people were just warehoused or conveniently put put of sight. It was part of the whole civil rights movement of the 60’s to empty the hospitals. The standards, such as they are, that are now in place are likely too loose, but many mentally ill people can and do present a perfectly normal outward appearance. Violent fantasies are not illegal, and for some people are probably a useful outlet.

Where do we draw the line? Who decides? On what basis? Do we commit people that shouldn’t be or free people who should be committed? No one can know enough to always be right, no matter how many controls you try and put in place. There are no solutions to the mental health issue or many other similar questions. There are only trade-offs.

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