Let’s auction off our Constitution on eBay
Why not? We’re not using it.
Congress is not using it. The U.S. Supreme Court is not using it. Obama is not using it – and he taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School for 12 years. In practice, we have been ignoring and circumventing our Constitution since the moment the ink dried from the pens of our founding fathers.
Let’s face it. America is broke and needs to raise cash fast. Auctioning off the U.S. Constitution just might bring in a quick buyer.
Fundamentally, there are four things the federal government can do to raise money: raise taxes, borrow, print money, or sell assets.
The first is political suicide for both parties. We’ve already done the second and third big time and both have had zero affect on balancing our budget, lowering our debt, or raising revenues through increased employment. In fact, actions by this administration and the Federal Reserve Bank have only accelerated our dire debt situation.
No, the time has come for the fourth: Start selling off federal assets. An aggressive program of national asset dumping may prove to be the “revenue enhancements” our federal government is searching for.
I think the Constitution is the first to go on the auction block. Even if you are a constitutional originalist – and believe every word written on the sacred parchment is absolutely unalterable – chances are politicians in both parties haven’t even visited the original copy held at the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington D.C., let alone read it in full.
Or perhaps you feel the Constitution is a “living document?” No, that’s not up for interpretation any longer. The Constitution is not a living document; it’s a dead document in America. Has been for years. So I say let’s put it up on eBay and sell it to another country that might find some value in its carefully crafted words by some pretty famous authors.
After all, we need the money. Our federal budget deficit has been recently raised to $1.7 trillion. Our federal debt is now $15 trillion. And our unfunded liabilities for entitlement programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security – well, the future trend line is headed to the moon, with a projected minimum of $65 trillion. Ouch. Baby boomers are left high and dry and may want to consider moving back in with their parents. Obviously, with the way the markets are going these days, 401ks and IRAs are not going to be the safety cushion they were sold to us to be.
Possible buyers for our Constitution
There are a lot of countries in the world that just might pay big bucks for the original copy of the Constitution if we put it up on eBay for sale.
Take the newest country in the world, for example, the Republic of South Sudan. The country just ratified a “Transitional Constitution” shortly before independence on July 7. They may be in the market for a “Permanent Constitution” soon, and we have one. We have to act fast, though. Timing in politics is everything.
Granted, South Sudan is one of the poorest countries, with possibly the worst health situation in the world, so it may be too early for them to bid big bucks on a 222-year-old, moldering, unused document. Feeding its poor may be a better use of its initial revenues than the South Sudanese parsing their way through all those articles and sections that another country has found worthless anyway.
Hey, New Zealand might be a good prospect. It is considered by the OECD as one of the world’s most free-market countries. It sells a lot of milk worldwide and is flush with cash. Smartly, they’ve been turning their backs on the United States and Britain and have signed cozy trade agreements with China and other Southeast Asian countries.
New Zealand has a very high standard of living, but more importantly to the United States, they have no unified constitution to speak of. The Constitution of New Zealand consists of a collection of statutes (acts of Parliament), treaties, orders-in-council, letters patent, decisions of the courts and unwritten constitutional conventions.
New Zealand, like its original benefactor, the United Kingdom, has no one supreme document; the New Zealand Constitution is not codified or, with the exception of certain electoral law, formally entrenched. Never know – maybe Britain and New Zealand will go in halfsies on buying our Constitution?
As to the selling channel, I did some research on eBay and found out that the most expensive item ever sold on eBay was a 405-foot, steel mega-yacht (marketed as a gigayacht) auctioned by the Fort Lauderdale-based company 4Yacht and designed by naval architect Frank Mulder of Mulder Design. The yacht was offered up for auction on eBay on Nov. 3, 2006 with a “Buy Now” price of $85 million.
The price paid your 50 percent deposit of the full purchase price of $168 million total. I think the Constitution could go for a lot more than a boat. Even if it was a fancy one. The Constitution has a lot of wise words in it, and another country, unlike the United States, might find some value in organizing its country around those very wise words.
Elsewhere, there are heaps of countries in the world without a constitution and plenty of money to buy one. For example, who knows what totalitarian regime might decide at the spur of the moment to convert to a republic form of government – say North Korea or Saudi Arabia or even China. Especially China. It is the largest creditor nation in the world (read: capitalism on steroids) and yet calls itself a communist government. Believe me, I bet you could search every government building in China and you would more likely find more copies of Benjamin Graham’s Value Investing than Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto.
Come to think about it, let’s be real about the situation: How much longer are the Chinese going to keep buying our Treasury debt at a 2 percent coupon rate, especially since our debt just got downgraded from a AAA rating to a AA+ rating? Perhaps China might repudiate some of our debt in exchange for our Constitution? A barter deal. Just a thought.
Who squashed the Constitution, anyway?
Presidents of both parties. Members of Congress. The Supreme Court. Special interests. And every American who let them do it.
There are numerous examples throughout history of flagrant acts of constitutional desecration to point to, but none more defiling than the USA Patriot Act.
The USA Patriot Act was passed in Congress just 40 days after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, and rushed through with virtually no congressional debate. Clearly, the USA Patriot Act is an attack on the Constitution. The act permits government to search citizens’ as well as non-citizens’ medical records, tax records, library records, and gives the go-ahead for government agencies to listen in on private telephone conversations – plus the power to conduct secret searches on private, individual homes.
The act is in direct conflict with the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, which clearly states, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated…”
Continuing with the assault on civil liberties, the USA Patriot Act is also in violation of the Sixth Amendment and First Amendment, respectively: the right to a speedy trial, freedom of speech, religion and assembly. The USA Patriot Act permits the government to imprison Americans indefinitely without a trial if suspected of terrorist activity.
America was founded on the principle of individual liberties, the right to private property (which starts with your own body and the right to put in it whatever you want) and the rule of law. If it is acceptable to suspend the rule of law for the sake of security, then I agree with Benjamin Franklin, who said, “He who sacrifices freedom for security deserves neither.”
The USA Patriot Act is not the first governmental action that has infringed on our civil liberties. Dating back to 1798 (yes, just 11 years after the Constitution was adopted), the Alien and Sedition Acts by John Adams were clearly atrocious attacks on our constitutional rights. Abraham Lincoln suspended habeas corpus during the Civil War, and Franklin Roosevelt sent Japanese Americans to internment camps during World War II.
But the USA Patriot Act may just be the most egregious of them all, and we are living with it today.
Actually, let’s auction off the USA Patriot Act, too
Why not auction off the USA Patriot Act on eBay, too? The likelihood that totalitarian regimes such as North Korea and Saudi Arabia (let’s throw in Myanmar, China, and Zimbabwe, too) would be interested in buying our Constitution is slim and none, and slim just left town.
But I do think these countries might go for the latest version of the USA Patriot Act, to which Obama just gave his approval for a four-year extension.
The Constitution. The Declaration of Independence. The Bill of Rights. The Statue of Liberty. The Lincoln Memorial. We don’t really pay attention or respect any one them any longer, so why not auction them off on eBay and pay down our deficit with the proceeds from these real, tangible assets?
Heck, beats bludgeoning our dollar into oblivion via Bernanke, I say.
Molitor is a regular columnist for this site. You can reach him at email@example.com.
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