Lee Presser Feb. 19, 2014, 7:13pm

In America, there are now two completely different ideas as to why government exists.

- One, as a referee between competing economic interests in a nation of rational self-interest and competition leading to economic prosperity.

- Two, as a redistributor of economic outcomes; using the law to determine who gets what.

The U.S. was established in category One.

There are those who are moving the U.S. toward category Two.  They do this under the theory of an evolving Constitution.  But contracts do not evolve.  They represent hard fought positions which have been reduced to writing.

Article 5 of the U.S. Constitution states, the Constitution (which is a written contract), may be altered by a vote of two thirds of the House of Representatives, two thirds of the Senate, followed by a vote of three-fourths of the state legislatures.

The evolving Constitution crowd does not believe in Article 5.  They want change to be made easier; perhaps by Executive Order.  A small example of trying to go around the contract as written was observed during the 2000 and 2010 census.

We count the citizens of each state to determine how many Congressional seats each state has in the House of Representatives.  This also determines how many votes a state has in the Electoral College.  The words of the Constitution for that count are “actual Enumeration.”  But some want to change the process without a change in the Constitution.  They wish to substitute the words “statistical sampling” for the words “actual Enumeration” without a vote of the state legislatures.  While it may not seem so, this attempt at substitution is lawless.  Changing the outcome of the count can change the political power balance, thus, the political direction of the country.

My central point is this.  The same thought process used to justify changing the constitutional process of counting the population can also be used to change government from a referee between competing economic interests into a redistributor of economic outcomes.

If the proponents of redistribution believe they have a mandate, let’s put it to a vote.  But, until three-fourths of the legislatures vote to amend the fundamental purpose of government, we live with the Constitution as currently written.

Lee Presser is host and executive producer at  "Conversation with Lee Presser."

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