Proposed Constitutional Amendments: Effecting Change and Tax as Stick

28th Amendment to the United States Constitution
Any law that is expected to cause change in society must specify the intended effects, a methodology for measuring that effect over time, and scheduled review periods. Legislation which have achieved and continue to achieve their effect will continue on as law. Legislation which has not produced an effect within or exceeding the expectations laid out will cease being law when under review and cannot be re-introduced without modification to correct the oversights of the original former legislation.

29th Amendment to the United States Constitution
Taxes levied to discourage some particular individual or organizational behavior cannot enter the budget of any governmental organization. It must be directly and expressly re-purposed to an agency practicing encouraged behavior, to an agency working to help prevent the discouraged behavior, or to some charitable organization.

Obviously, both of these items are meaningless unless the voters and/or the mass media are watching to ensure that the method of reviewing legislative effect is honest and that legislators don’t run money from someone they don’t like to someone who has financed their campaign. But, that’s true of the world today.

On the 28th Amendment, what laws, in particular, do you believe would fall afoul of this restriction? Social Security? The interstate freeway system? The space program?

All, to some extent. I think you would have to leave laws already passed as excluded from the scope of the law, though. For instance, with Social Security, the idea was to provide for people who couldn’t make it through their old age financially. So if after the law was created, the number of old people running into financial issues shrinks by the expected amount and the total cost of care to elders stays within a particular rate of pay (adjusting for inflation or whatever), then the law gets to carry on without revision. But, in the modern day, there has always been Social Security. The only way to test its efficacy would probably be to shut it down and start it back up again. That probably isn’t practical. So, this amendment would have to be a “going forward” thing.

But possible modern day legislation would be something like the stimulus bill, the health care bills, or even here in Seattle where they’ve started taxing us 10 cents for not bringing and using a re-usable grocery bag at the supermarket.

If half of the stimulus money has been spent and it hasn’t achieved what was expected of it, the second half shouldn’t ever go out. If it is expected that health care reform will lower spending, if it doesn’t, the bill would cease having effect. And if people haven’t stopped using throw-away grocery bags, the tax should disappear.

Stupid laws and horribly drafted. On the plus side, any society crazy enough to ratify those abominations will have lots of work for lawyers.

Wait – so you’re saying that had this amendment been in place, we should have canceled Social Security, the interstate highway system, and the space program because they didn’t perform well enough?

Ah, I thought you were asking whether those programs would have been considered as legislation considered to “produce an effect” and hence needed to have included the expected outcomes of the laws.

I have no idea whether they would have ran afoul of the amendment and been shut down. If you believe that they have lived up to the expectations of the creators then I guess you should imagine that they would still be here today.

What I’m trying to get at is, please provide some examples of laws that would have been canceled if this amendment were in place, but have been allowed to continue for some substantial amount of time. My first inclination to your OP is that it makes a boogeyman of “social programs” and how awful and ineffective they are.

But in any case, keep in mind that organizations have a tendency to call modest improvement a tremendous success, whether it is Congress talking about the latest anti-violence in Hollywood bill or Detroit talking about gloveboxes that you can chill to store tepid sodas.

Would ***all ***laws be canceled until such criteria is specified?
Or is this to pertain to all consequent laws?
And don’t we have to pass laws to implement these changes.
And are these laws then exempt from this amendment?

I think probably almost all laws would get repealed, revised, and replaced and that’s the ideal. Saying that Social Security or the War on Drugs isn’t as effective as promised or cost more than expected doesn’t mean that they’re bad ideas, just that either they are poorly executed or were sold to the people based on unrealistic expectations. If it comes back that Social Security 1.0 is costing double what was expected in the original document, well then rather than raising the budget to match, it should be revised with the correct value and voted back in if people feel that it is worth it at that value.

My goal isn’t to shut down legislation that I feel was stupid or ineffective. I don’t have any particular problem with any legislation that we do have. The goal is to introduce more honesty and a scientific approach to the process because that gets even better legislation added. Why settle for “good enough” when its fully possible that better legislation could have been created?

If you believe I have ulterior motive then don’t vote for the amendment. But personally I’d say that unless you believe there to be something wrong with enforcing that law serve a provable purpose and fall within the guidelines agreed upon when voted for, then you’re being a bit too suspicious for your own good.

No, as I said in my second post, it would have to be a “going forward” rule.

How is it to be determined whether a law is intended to effect this or that change? I know “common sense” will usually make it obvious–but we’re talking laws here and judgments about them amongst lawyers and politicians rarely can rely on “common sense.” You need to have a codified answer to the question, I think.

That’s not really pertinent. The legislators put in whatever they want to, the populace decides whether their elected officials are on crack, and proceed to either continue to vote them into office or not as they feel the situation merits.

OK, so for the sake of this hypothetical, let’s just imagine a world where murder is not yet illegal. But tomorrow they’re planning on enacting it.

Before that happens they’re going to need to:

  1. Write a report stating what the specified effects are of legislating murder
  2. Create a methodology for measuring whether this law decreases the number of murders…quarterly? Annually? Once per decade? What’s “over time” mean again? What are “review periods”?

And then (and this is the part that just cracks me the hell up) once they’ve created the “no murdering” law:

  1. They will then use their methodology to determine if murders have gone down or not and if not
  2. repeal the no murdering law and ban its enactment from EVER coming up again! Awesome.

The time period is again not pertinent. It just matters whether the general populace feels like their legislators are or are not smoking crack and continue to vote them in. The review period can’t be mandated by an amendment like this since it will vary by topic.

There is no “EVER” in the amendment. It simply says that new attempts must address the failure of previous attempts.

But let’s examine your case. There are three possible effects of forbidding murder: The rate of murder increases, decreases, or doesn’t change substantially. If the rate of murder increases by the forbidding of murder, why would I want to carry on with this law? If it decreases, then the law has fulfilled its purpose. If it doesn’t change, and yet I’m spending money on policing it, then I’m just wasting money and so I may as well repeal the law. How is any one of these outcomes a bad thing?

Your personal conviction that murder is bad and must be policed is secondary to reality. Reality trumps all. Maybe the general populace does a better job at preventing murder than your newly created policing agency and always will. I don’t know, either way I’d prefer the method that is provably better regardless of my personal feelings on the matter.

There are some of us who would question whether that’s a ‘plus side’. :wink:

From my perspective, it opens up career opportunities. From a layman’s perspective, lawyers will be too busy sorting out the mess these amendments would create to chase ambulances. Therefore, lawyers will get less exercise, become less healthy, and die sooner. Something in it for everybody. :stuck_out_tongue:

Still easily circumvented by simply not saying anything about the purpose of a law when drafting it, isn’t it?

Just out of curiousity if you enact an Interstate Highway Act and predict that it will be used by ten million drivers within five years of its completion, what happens if you reach the five year mark and you haven’t hit your goal? Do you tear up the roads?

I think that the idea is that a bill will have to include a set of success and failure conditions as part of the bill.

What would you do about a government program set up to deal with a non-existent problem? Suppose a law creates the Federal Bureau of Vampire Security. Its stated mission is to prevent vampires from gaining a foothold in the United States and our yardstick of success is that we will keep vampire attacks below ten per year. And sure enough we hit our goal year after year. As a successful program that continuously meets its stated aims, we will continue forever.

Now suppose instead of vampires we pick the slightly more realistic threat of terrorists. We create a Federal Bureau of Terrorist Security. What should there goalline be? Ten terrorist attacks per year like the vampire standard? If we only have five terrorist attacks in the United States next year is that a sign that the FBTS is doing a good job?