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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Constitution Reform Conference As Chief Justice Condemns "Dysfunction"

The Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court, Ronald George, complained in an Oct. 10 speech that with the passage last November of Props 2 and 8, "chickens gained valuable rights in California on the same day that gay men and lesbians lost them".  George also complained about California's inability to raise taxes:
California’s lawmakers, and the state itself, have been placed in a fiscal straitjacket by a steep two-thirds-vote requirement — imposed at the ballot box — for raising taxes.  Much of this constitutional and statutory structure has been brought about not by legislative fact-gathering and deliberation, but rather by the approval of voter initiative measures, often funded by special interests.
Today there is a televised conference in Sacramento on reforming California's constitution.  In an essay for the LPCA's Libertarian Perspective earlier this year, economics professor Fred Foldvary described what a libertarian constitution would look like:

If the constitutional convention had a libertarian perspective, it would limit the government's power by decentralizing and privatizing many state functions. Education, for example, would be decentralized to the school boards, and state funding would go to the parents as vouchers rather than to the schools. The parents would then be able to use the vouchers for private and home schooling as well as for the government's schools.

A freedom-minded convention would enact a liberty amendment, which would state that the legislature shall make no law restricting any peaceful and honest adult human action not involving force or fraud, any state interest to the contrary notwithstanding. Such a provision would decriminalize drugs and victimless acts generally, reducing crime and saving the state billions of dollars.

In a libertarian constitution, the state's income and sales taxes would be abolished. (New Hampshire is an example of a state that thrives without these taxes.) Smog tests and other environmental mandates would be replaced by pollution taxes that would compensate society for damage caused by emissions. Streets and highways would have tolls high enough to eliminate congestion. The state's property tax would exempt buildings, tapping only the land value. Public works and civic services generate land value, and a levy on the land value equitably repays the rent and site value generated by beneficial services.

Freed of taxes on profits, labor, and sales, enterprise would thrive, employment would soar, and poverty would greatly diminish. There would be plenty of revenue to balance California's government budget.

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