Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Rule of what Now?

The hundreds of waivers for Obamacare have been galling, as they show
directly that some people are above these new laws and regulations but
Ace looks at a Reason article that states exactly what it means.

Anyway, Reason magazine drops the f-bomb (feudal, I mean) so casually I have to think this is a common criticism. For me it's a bit of a (embarrassed to say) revelation, because I hadn't conceived of the socialist/corporatist model of Obamanomics as being, among other things, essentially feudal in nature, involving a raft of special privileges for baronial elites (and the reciprocal promise of those barons to support their liege in war).


This lens of a new feudalism gives me a new understanding of what is going on with Obama's waivers on health care for all his bestest baronial buddies and Obama's very special waiver for very, very powerful baron GE as regards global warming rules.


In that context, I'm wondering at what point a system of waivers becomes actually unconstitutional -- because anyone not granted a waiver is being burdened by a restrictive and possibly punitive law that others aren't. Isn't he?

That is, there is no difference, effectively, between saying "All people are subject to 80% taxation rates, but a special category of Friends of Obama shall be waived from this general rule and only pay 35%" or directly making a law of specific persons (all conservatives) who will have to pay taxes at the 80% rate. The latter would be a clearly illegal, punitive law -- but the former would be allowed (or is being allowed now, at least) while accomplishing the exact same goal, penalizing some while privileging others.

A system of waivers from the basic law is no different than a system of legal burdens being legislated against specific named persons.

It's feudal. It's unconstitutional. It's bad law and bad policy, and it's time for the special Friends of Obama star chamber to be dismantled.
Emphasis in the original.
In short: Know your place, serf.

Philip Hamburger writing in the National Review has similar thoughts:

More seriously, it raises questions about whether we live under a government of laws. Congress can pass statutes that apply to some businesses and not others, but once a law has passed — and therefore is binding — how can the executive branch relieve some Americans of their obligation to obey it?

Turns out this has a history one that dates to the Middle Ages.... familiar.

As it happens, waivers have a history. In the Middle Ages, the pope granted waivers, known as dispensations, and English kings soon followed suit. Technically, these grants relied on what were called  “non obstante clauses” — clauses in which the king specified that, notwithstanding a particular law, the recipient of the grant could do  as he pleased. Supplementing this dispensing power was the suspending power. Whereas a dispensation waived compliance with a statute for a particular individual or corporation, a suspension waived compliance for everyone.

Related to the feudal idea of privilege: that is special laws for me but not for thee. “Do government officials and members of the media actually believe that the law is really meant to protect some but not others?”

Via Glen

And speaking of Glen here's more. Citizen Activist presents traffic plan; plan is too good; acitivst annoys government; activist gets hit with “practicing engineering without a license.”

As Glen says: "Stay in your place, proles, and don’t challenge your betters."

Literally, that's what the accusation is:

Cox has not been accused of claiming that he is an engineer. But Lacy says he filed the complaint because the report "appears to be engineering-level work" by someone who is not licensed as a professional engineer.

And on a related note, the White House had decided to ignore yet another court order telling them to stop.

It used to be that there was at least the pretense of a rule of law, that everyone was accountable to the law... but what do you expect when you have a political class that recoils at the mere reading of the Constitution.

No comments: