Pharos-Tribune

Columns

June 5, 2014

WATTS: The Mount Vernon Assembly in Indy

The United States is in a constitutional crisis, with a national government that will not and cannot control its growth. A single indicator tells the story: In the 68 years since the end of World War II, federal spending has exceeded revenue in 56 of those years. More importantly, the average size of federal deficits has ballooned from less than 1 percent of GDP in the 1950s and 1960s to over 5 percent of GDP today. Young Americans and coming generations will be left with a fiscal burden that will not be resolved without serious economic pain.

My school of economic thought, Public Choice, exposes problems inherent in politics that might make any attempt at reform seem daunting. We must face the fact, nonetheless, that the most common reform strategy, that of replacing our current set of leaders, is indeed hopeless. Reform should therefore not focus on particular personalities, but on changing the incentives and constraints within which these political animals operate.

Fortunately, we have a vehicle to do just that: the Article V convention process. The most important aspect of this reform is that it is state-led — it is a means by which the state governments can impose reform on Washington, D.C.

Indiana has been among the leaders on this issue, being one of 23 states to have issued a limited (i.e. single-issue) call for an Article V convention for proposing amendments in our state assembly.

To begin this discussion, we should note that the burden imposed on the states by the federal bureaucracy and regulation has never been greater, and this federal interference has created distrust and disillusionment with the feds amongst state governments. In addition to being compelled to administer much of Congress’ welfare-distribution schemes, the states have been micromanaged by federal bureaucracies in everything from land and resource use to drinking ages to voting procedures.

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