Three Steps to Smaller Government - Granite Grok

Three Steps to Smaller Government

Here in New Hampshire, the Republican party — the ‘party of small government’ — controls both houses of the legislature and the governor’s office.  But government continues to grow.  Why?  Because in order to actually shrink government, three reforms are necessary, and none of them are in place.

(1) Everything, including existing RSAs and agency regulations, must sunset after a reasonably brief period, like 10 years.

(2) New legislation must require something like 90% support to pass, so that law reflects a consensus of the governed rather than a tool that majorities can use to dominate minorities.

(3) Departments and agencies must have their rule-making authority revoked, and courts must have their ability to legislate via judicial opinion rescinded, so that the legislature is the sole source of law.

Together, (1) and (2) would force a constant pruning of laws and rules that have outlived their usefulness, or that should never have been enacted in the first place.

And (3) would remedy the current situation, in which (a) the written constitution has been superseded entirely by an oral constitution consisting of whatever the sitting justices of the state Supreme Court happen to believe at the moment, which can only be guessed at; and (b) all three branches of government create laws and rules and issue opinions, which often contradict one another.  These leave the average citizen with no possible way, even in theory, of knowing whether he’s inside or outside of ‘the law’.

(Recall the recent Croydon case, in which the state constitution said one thing, the legislature said another, the attorney general’s office said a third, and the courts said a fourth — all different. It’s like having four people fighting over the steering wheel of a moving bus.  There’s only one legitimate driver, and that’s the legislature, subject to the limits of the written constitution.)

Two more reforms, while optional, would slow the proliferation of improper laws by making it harder for legislators to hide what they’re doing from the people they represent:

(4) New legislation must be restricted to dealing with no more than one subject per bill (as is now the case in Tennessee and Utah).

(5) All votes of the legislature must be by roll call, so that legislators can be held accountable by the people they represent.

Absent these changes, regardless of which party is in charge, we’re just going to continue get more government meddling (i.e., the pursuit of ‘better outcomes’) at higher costs. As it is now, even when there is an occasional step toward freedom, it is always accompanied by several steps in the other direction.

These reforms won’t be easy to implement — but if they can’t get done during a period when the ‘party of small government’ has control of the government, then we should just resign ourselves to the fact that there is no party of small government, and that the Republican and Democrat ‘parties’ are really just wings of a single entity, which differ only on the particular outcomes that they want to obtain now, paid for by eliminating the freedom of future generations to make their own choices.