S.C. reform site seeks constitutional convention

Still catching up from the past couple of weeks (first, I had a three day week because I was driving to Memphis on Thursday the 26th, then had another three-day week because I drove back on Monday, and the 4th was Friday), and that means this message from Mattheus Mei is a tad late for Independence Day.

But the message has little to do with the Fourth, since it’s about changing the S.C. constitution — something we’ve been pushing for, whatever the day of the year, since 1991. So while we have never gone so far as to call for an actual convention, it’s certainly an option that should be on the table. (You may be interested to know that the impetus for our 1991 "Power Failure" series came from a series of op-ed columns by Walter Edgar and Blease Graham that did call for such a convention; we adopted the reform agenda without the convention part.) Here’s what Matthew wrote to me:

Brad, I’m starting a petition. With all the "change" in the air, isn’t it time we take an active role in changing how things are done in Columbia, or better yet changing the whole darned system itself! Care to sign, and join me in my personal quest to arouse the rebel yell deep within the SC electorate and let our elected officials with their internecine bickering an inability to pass meaningful legislation? I’d appreciate any support or words of encouragement on what is both a quixotic and yet slightly cynical quest of desperation for the plight of our state.


And here’s a link to his site.

22 thoughts on “S.C. reform site seeks constitutional convention

  1. Karen McLeod

    I’m slightly leery of a constitutional convention, because the political bozos around here could end up changing things for the worse!

  2. Richard L. Wolfe

    I agree with Karen. The system is made up of people. If the people are incompetent then the system will be incompetent.

  3. Brad Warthen

    Actually, Richard, I THINK Karen was making a slightly different point. I think she was saying we needed to change the system; she just doesn’t trust the people our lawmakers would appoint to a convention to give us the right kind of change.
    Or maybe I was just assuming Karen agrees with me…

  4. Mattheus Mei

    I can appreciate the concern that you raise both Richard and Karen, indeed the constitution states:
    “the General Assembly shall, at its next session, provide by law for calling the same; and such Convention shall consist of a number of members equal to that of the most numerous branch of the General Assembly”
    But that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll do the picking! I think it would launch a mob if they hand picked their own crack team of constitiutional revisers. Feasibly they’d have to construct some way for the people to elect convention delegates equal to the number of the members of the house and composing equal representation from each county.
    And I’ve weighed my own options, though I don’t like Sanford and his neo-libertarian friends, I still trust that in light of history, they’d be more equitable and impartial framers than the likes of Ben “Pitchfork” Tillman and his crowd in 1895. But at any rate, none of this would happen even if approved today before the next gubenatorial election in 2010 which satisfies me!

  5. Lee Muller

    The only Constitutional changes we need:
    * No public debt – no bonds, no leasing.
    * Zero based budgeting, with line items down to every employee and the physical infrastructure necessary to support them.
    * Outlaw all public welfare and wealth transfer programs.
    * Term limits on political office of 10 years total, at all levels, for life.
    * Term limits on government employment of 10 years, except for some police and military officers.
    * No government pensions or insurance benefits. Make the workers pay for their own insurance and own it so they can take it with them when they leave public employment.
    * No income taxes.
    * No property taxes.

  6. Mattheus Mei

    Lee you’re the picture perfect example of neoliberatarianism, the only thing I specifically agree with you on in your list is term limits for public office holders. You and Gov. Sanford must be good buddies.

  7. Lee Muller

    I just want real reform, not more corruption and status quo sold as reform by politicians and media hacks whose strategy is to “get in front of “reform and hijack the movement.

  8. Lee Muller

    Leasing and bonds actually are already illegal, circumventing the constitutional prohibition against deficit spending.
    What is needed is a taxpayer lawsuit to end all bonded INDEBTEDNESS and leasing, and immediate payoff off all such debt.
    Anyone want to join me in a taxpayer class action lawsuit?

  9. Mattheus Mei

    The only way to bring about real substantive reform in this state is to emmulate our federal constitution not immolate it in sad parody.
    The federal constitution separates powers and reduces the influence of any one branch over the others (the current administration not withstanding), currently we have some quasi-parlimentary system because the governor is without any authority, more like a figurehead, we elect rather than appoint constitutional officers, we have a shadow government in the form of the B&CB which is in and of itself a legislative play toy, as it’s lorded over by a coterie of legislators as opposed to professionals with accountability to the people. Our Courts are elected by legislators who then can meddle in their affairs and gives the legislative branch even more power or which produces such judicial activism that makes even the staunchest of conservatives blush. Even this weekend we learn that most local magistrates serve at the discretion of state senators.
    I agree and do also believe that we need substantive change, and we can only do it when the people are involved and aware, which currently they are not – OR – they’re too apathetic to do anything about it.
    Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
    The question becomes how much longer are we willing to suffer under oligarchic despotism?

  10. Lee Muller

    Thomas Jefferson believed that the only way for people to take control of any corrupt system was to wrest power from the politicians with more armed force than the status quo has at its disposal, because they are immoral thugs who will not surrender power without bloodshed.

  11. Joseph Reynolds

    What a wonderful idea…no taxes..and no bills..
    oh, but wait..how do we pay for the $3 BILLION dollars in roads that need building or repairing?..
    Now I remember…trickle down economics..if we dont tax..then all the people making over $50,000 a year (im sure that includes you..it certainly includes sanford and 99% of his cronies) will just GIVE us the roads..bridges…prisons (remember those?..Your kindred political souls pushed for the laws that filled them up when y’all demanded all the immigration laws..drug laws..loud music laws..etc)..
    so..no taxes…no government..and free infrastructure..
    whats next..free cable TV?
    BTW..how do you propose paying off billions in existing debt?..a tax increase?

  12. Mattheus Mei

    So will our efforts to engender support via petition just fail us? Should we start an armed rebellion, the Supreme Court has just affirmed our rights to individually bear arms after all…
    Perhaps that’s all that would work in Jefferson’s day when the despotic regime was more Machiavellian in that they thought it better to be feared than loved, but today’s politicians, especially in South Carolina, aren’t just brutes who use “arms” of special interest money to finance their campaigns based on nuanced deceit (even though they are), but they do so because they know the only way to stay in power is to garner the “love” of the people when appropriate, i.e. election years. Perhaps that’s why now we can use the power of the pen, petitions, increased pressure via traditional and new media to make these sleeping buffoons wake up; perhaps now we don’t have to get an angry mob with guns and rope and pitchforks and torches to storm the cement tower of nepotism and cronyism that is the Statehouse, though images of such are delightful fancy, especially when it involves throwing those rapscallions out on their ears.

  13. SGM (ret.)

    I’m all for constitutional changes to the structure of the state’s government. The legislature has run out-of-control for way too long while the executive has less power than the proverbial flapping butterfly wing. And what’s just as bad, there doesn’t seem to be any way the electorate can get a grip on the slippery devils and hold any of ’em accountable. (Which is undoubtably the whole point!)
    It should be obvious to most anyone that the legislature will never give up its hold on power by the mere passing of laws itself. If it takes the “nuclear option” to bring about some changes that are a century or so overdue, then so be it.
    When you get your petition printed, I’ll be happy to sign on the first line.

  14. Lee Muller

    Mr. Reynolds,
    No one said anything about “no taxes”, so go play somewhere else with your straw man.
    1. Who said we need $3 BILLION of road construction, and over what period of time, and how do they know? The SCDOT doesn’t even have a full inventory of roads and bridges, much less a life cycle assessment and maintenance plan for them.
    2. Why won’t the current highway fuel taxes pay for all the maintenance that is truly needed?
    Again, you don’t know.

  15. Lee Muller

    Hopefully, the lawsuits in SC will nullify all the legislation ever passed by attaching it to bill with a totally different (alleged) purpose.
    The US Constitution needs a similar amendment to limit bills to one subject. Anything in the bill unrelated to the title is null and void.
    We also need mandatory roll call votes on everything.
    And make every legislator sign an oath that he has personally read and understood every page of every bill, under penalty of perjury.

  16. Mattheus Mei

    I concur on the roll call votes on everything, and though interesting and idealistic, I doubt you could do your last point about oaths and perjury.
    It would be interesting to see the one useful quirk of our system – the one item one bill – be implemented at a federal level, that’d take care of earmarks, although it may create a slush fund like the so called “competitive grants” (aka legislative kitty) program.

  17. Karen McLeod

    Brad, you read me aright. If we had/have a constitutional convention, I can just see those idi–fine southern lawmakers, assuring us (the people) that we could not possibly understand the complexities involved, and that only the lawyers they chose could be trusted to modify the beloved constitution of this great state appropriately.

  18. Lee Muller

    The so-called “competitive grants” handed out by the SC legislature are patently illegal, because they each item is required by law to be appropriated in a separate bill, which they are not.
    I’m up for a lawsuit on that, too. Any joiners?

  19. Robbie

    I remember having to read the entire SC Constitution in the 8th grade. At that point in time (1984-85) it was impossible to read the entire document and I know we’ve added several amendments since then. Although I want to hang from the highest tree in the redwood forest anyone who suggests a constitutional convention for the United States, such a radical convention could well be perfect for SC, where our document could possibly be made more perfect by tearing it up and starting from scratch.

  20. Lee Muller

    Starting over with the original constitution writtten by John Locke would be best.

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