The following article was written by Josh Barker, a 14-year-old member of the Convention of States team in Georgia. It was originally published in the Macon Telegraph. Way to go, Josh!
Every second of every day it's rising. It's rising very quickly yet quietly. Some try to ignore it, but no matter how hard we try, it is still there. The amount is astronomical. It is almost equal to the number of feet between the Sun and Pluto, and about three and a half times the surface area of our planet in square centimeters. I'm talking about the national debt. It's rising by around $900,000 a minute, which is about $15,000 a second.
At the very time I am writing these words our national debt is beyond $18.3 trillion with another $100 trillion promised in Social Security benefits to those who are working, and it's $100 trillion that our government doesn't have.
FOUR BIG CRISES
There are four big crises that our country is facing that could potentially bring us down, one of which have already been mentioned, the spending and debt crisis. The other three are the regulatory crisis, the congressional attacks on state sovereignty and the federal takeover of the decision-making process.
In June of this year in the Lone Star State of Texas, two young girls, ages 7 and 8, put a lemonade stand on their street in their neighborhood with a goal to raise $105 to go to the water park. They were selling lemonade for 50 cents.
However, the city police chief came to the stand, not to buy lemonade, but to tell the girls they had to buy a $150 city permit or close. Not only do regulations require vendors (lemonade stands included) to have a city permit, state health officials must inspect and approve any facility selling refrigerated beverages, including lemonade.
Not only are regulations extremely strict and hurting small businesses and non-businesses like lemonade stands, regulations are also complex and conflicted. Not only are regulations on drinks like lemonade, they are on things like coal with regulations essentially preventing the use of coal in power plants. According to a study done by the American Enterprise Institute, since 1949, federal regulations have lowered the GDP growth by 2 percent, and made America 72 percent poorer. This is a crisis. If this continues, America will be ruined.
When the Common Core initiative came out, some states didn't want to do it. Those states, such as Oklahoma, were told instead that they must either make almost identical "high standards" or not receive federal funding. This is just one example of the federal government using its money to force states to do what it wants the states to do. The states need the money and sometimes will do anything to get it.
Once unfunded, federal mandates are passed that just happen to go along with federal grants, states are turned into regional agencies executing the federal government's policies. This was not the intent of the founders. While federal and state governments have overlapping powers, this is not overlapping powers, this is the federal government taking over the state's role, and it's not good for anybody. This is Congress and the federal government taking states from being independent governments to being subsidiaries of the federal government.
The federal government has been on a growth spurt that started around 1933 when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt started the New Deal up into the 1960s with President Lyndon Baines Johnson's Great Society. Eight new federal departments have been created in just these past 82 years. Our Founding Fathers created a limited government. You don't see pictures of Abraham Lincoln or George Washington with 23 cabinet ranking officials, they had four and seven members, respectively. With these departments and hundreds of federal agencies, the federal government has grown its power far beyond what the Founding Fathers wanted. Power used to be shared between the states and federal government that now is being replaced by power only from the federal government. Sadly, this growth isn't stopping anytime soon unless we take some action.
Our Founding Fathers knew that problems could arise where our Constitution needed to be changed. They gave us a way for it to be changed, by passing an amendment through two-thirds of both houses of Congress. However there's a big problem; how can we change the Constitution when the federal government is the problem if they aren't willing to change voluntarily?
FOUNDING FATHERS' WISDOM
Those who drafted the Constitution had this question in mind, and so when writing the Fifth Article of the Constitution, the article that talks about how to amend the Constitution, our Founding Fathers put in one little phrase that could save our nation in such a time as this. It reads as follows:
"The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress ..."
CAN WE FIX THE PROBLEMS?
If we were to call for a Convention of the States, we could fix these problems. We could pass Constitutional Amendments at the convention, and then the state legislatures would ratify it. The organization Convention of States has a plan to help call a Convention of the States, fix this country and save our Constitution, "because sometimes what you need is not a change in personnel, you need a change in structure," Dr. Michael Farris, who along with Mark Meckler co-founded the COS organization, said regarding the Convention of the States.
The constitutional lawyer who has argued before the U.S. Supreme Court, seven U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal, and 10 state Supreme Courts agrees that it is time to take action and that structure really is key. "The Founders understood the importance of structure," Farris said, "and they gave the power to the states to create a new set of rules when the federal government oversteps its boundaries. We need to re-calibrate the rules to take power away from Washington, D.C., and give it back to the people and to the states."
The organization is calling for state legislatures to pass a joint resolution to have a Convention of the States, not based on one particular amendment, but on a topic. The reason they are calling the convention is for the purpose of limiting the power and jurisdiction of the federal government. While they aren't calling the convention officially for one amendment in particular, there are several amendments we can expect at a Convention of the States.
Some possible amendments include a balanced budget amendment, reducing federal spending power, reducing the federal regulatory power, a prohibition of using international laws and treaties to govern domestic affairs in the United States, limiting executive orders and federal regulations to enact laws (because Congress is supposed to be the only branch passing laws), imposing checks and balances on the Supreme Court including term limits, and placing a limit on federal taxation.
WHAT'S HAPPENING NOW
Already, four state legislatures have taken the charge and passed the resolution. Just this year on May 21, the state legislature of Alabama passed the resolution and Texas and Kansas are considering the possibility. Last year, Florida, Alaska and our own state of Georgia passed the resolution. We need 30 more states to pass the resolution to reach a total of 34 states to call for a convention. However, to do that, we need your help. You can find out more information about Convention of the States, sign up to volunteer and sign the petition to show your support for the convention at conventionofstates.com. Nothing is going to get better until we do something about it, and we need your help to do it.