"Nip the shoots of arbitrary power in the bud, is the only maxim which can ever preserve the liberties of any people. When the people give way, their deceivers, betrayers, and destroyers press upon them so fast, that there is no resisting afterwards. The nature of the encroachment upon the American constitution is such, as to grow every day more and more encroaching. Like a cancer, it eats faster and faster every hour. The revenue creates pensioners, and the pensioners urge for more revenue. The people grow less steady, spirited, and virtuous, the seekers more numerous and more corrupt, and every day increases the circles of their dependents and expectants, until virtue, integrity, public spirit, simplicity, and frugality, become the objects of ridicule and scorn, and vanity, luxury, foppery, selfishness, meanness, and downright venality swallow up the whole society." ~ John Adams
Sauce for the Goose
Column by Paul Hein.
Exclusive to STR
A bunch of us old-timers get together around once a month for lunch. We’re too ancient to regale one another with stories about our children; that’s old hat. What we talk about mostly is politics, since, at our age, there’s so much politicking involving us ancients.
At one of our meetings, someone pointed out that the Missouri Constitution states, in plain, unmistakable language, that “political power is vested in, and derived from, the people.” Someone else reminded us that the federal Constitution says something similar: that powers not delegated to the Congress remain with the people. Neither remark made much impression upon us at the time.
At a subsequent luncheon, one of the group said he had been doing some research about the law, since there are so much of it, and we’re expected to know and obey them all. He found a definition of a statute in a law dictionary. It was “the written will of the legislature.” “And you know what?” he asked. “According to the state and federal constitutions, those guys in the legislature have whatever power they have from us--they derived it from us, or we delegated it to them. You know what that means? It means that if they can do it, we can do it.” Well, that made an impression, I can tell you! We decided to use the powers we possess.
Since the law is the “will of the legislature,” it follows that whatever those people want, once written down and promulgated, is the “law.” So we, having the same power, decided to write down what WE wanted. What’s the point of having power if you don’t use it?
We thought it would be nice if we didn’t have to pay for beverages, or dessert. Of course, there was discussion. Some thought beverages ought to include alcoholic drinks, but that notion was voted down. Some, on diets, thought that the free desserts should include desserts to go, rather than eaten right then and there, on the premises. That was voted down, too.
Once we had agreed on our wants, we wrote them down on the back of a menu, shook hands all around, and added our signatures and the date to our wants--i.e., the law. We asked the waitress to post it in a prominent place, and to bring us another round of beverages and desserts.
At first we worried that the restaurant might object to the cost of obeying the law; but then we realized that by adding only a few pennies to a couple of menu items, the cost could easily be borne, with no significant hardship to anyone. Great! We considered adding entrees to our list of wants—er, laws. (Excuse me, I’m not used to equating our wants with the law. But I’m sure I’ll get the hang of it.)
Before that, however, we agreed, unanimously, that it was our will--there I go again--the LAW--that we should be provided reserved parking places close to the door. After all, we’re all old and creaky. And that wouldn’t cost anybody anything. And if any of the regular patrons objected, we could pass still another law (there, I’ve got it down now) providing them with free beverages and desserts, too.
We marveled at how quickly we learned the ropes of law-making, and how smoothly one law flowed from another. In no time we’ll have books full of them. If there’s something you want, let us know. If we want it too, and write it down, it’s the law! Isn’t that marvelous!