Reform from the Top-After a Push from the Bottom?

Obama’s recent granting of amnesty to illegal immigrants by means of executive order got me thinking about what possibilities there might be in the future in terms of reform from the top. For example, the late, great libertarian Harry Browne ran for president on the LP ticket twice, in 1996 and 2000. While he never had a snowball’s chance of winning, he used to say that if here were elected he would use the powers of presidential pardon and executive order to sweep away a wide assortment of statist legislation. I included the text of one of Browne’s old articles below where he discusses some of that.

All executives-presidents-governors, even some mayors- have certain executive powers through which they can bypass other legal and governmental channels. One of the most important of these is the power of executive pardon and clemency. I mentioned in a previous post that the rising Grey Tribe, of which we pan-anarchists are the militant wing, should make the repeal of what libertarians call “consensual crimes” into our definitive issues like the liberals do with gay rights and like conservatives do with gun rights. If we can develop large scale, tripartite (left/right/center) political alliances around such issues, one thing we can begin to do eventually is demand the use of executive pardon and amnesty concerning persons arrested, prosecuted, or imprisoned under consensual crime laws. It be would a case of the bottom getting organized and getting militant and demanding reform from the top.

The President’s First Day in Office

By Harry Browne

World Net Daily

Joseph Farah told us what he would do if he were the new
president. He focused mainly on whom he’d appoint to his cabinet, but I’d like to tell you what actions I’d take if I’d been elected president.

After my inaugural day, I’d probably spend little more than an hour a day in the Oval Office, because a busy president is a dangerous president. But for the very first day, I’d have an extremely long agenda.

On that first day in office, by executive order I would:

Pardon everyone who had been convicted on a federal, non-violent drug charge, order their immediate release, reunite them with their families, and restore all their civil rights. (Anyone convicted of using violence against someone else in a drug case would not qualify as “non-violent.”)

Pardon everyone who had been convicted on any federal gun-control charge, tax-evasion charge, or any other victimless crime, order their immediate release, and restore all their civil rights.

I would empty the prisons of those who haven’t harmed anyone else and make room for the violent criminals who are currently getting out on plea bargains and early release.

Following the issuance of the pardons:

I would announce a policy to penalize, dismiss, or even prosecute any federal employee who violated the Bill of Rights by treating you as guilty until proven innocent, by searching or seizing your property without due process of law, by treating you as a servant, or in any other way violating your rights as a sovereign American citizen.

I would immediately order that no federal asset forfeiture could occur unless the property’s owner had been convicted by full due process. And I would initiate steps to make restitution to anyone whose property had been impounded, frozen, or seized by the federal government without a legal conviction. (Over 80 percent of such seizures occur when no one has even been charged with a crime.)

As commander in chief of the Armed Forces, I would immediately remove all American troops from foreign soil. Europe and Asia can pay for their own defense, and they can risk their own lives in their eternal squabbles. This would save billions of dollars a year in taxes, but — more important — it would make sure your sons and daughters never fight or die in someone else’s war.

I would order everyone in the executive branch to stop harassing smokers, tobacco companies, successful computer companies, gun owners, gun manufacturers, alternative medicine suppliers, religious groups (whether respected or labeled as “cults”), investment companies, health-care providers, businessmen, or anyone else who’s conducting his affairs peaceably.

I would end federal affirmative action, federal quotas, set-asides, preferential treatments, and other discriminatory practices of the federal government. Any previous president could have done this with a stroke of the pen. Do you wonder why none of them did?

And then I would break for lunch.

There’s more …
After lunch, I would begin the process of removing from the Federal Register the thousands and thousands of regulations and executive orders inserted there by previous presidents. In most cases these regulations give federal employees powers for which there is no constitutional authority.

I would call Office Depot and order a carload of pens — to use to veto congressional bills that violate the Constitution or that spend more money than necessary for the constitutional functions of government.

I would send to Congress a budget that immediately cuts federal spending in half — on its way to reducing the government to no larger than its constitutional size.

Congress would undoubtedly pass a larger budget and expect me to sign it. I wouldn’t. I’d veto it.

Would Congress override my veto?

Maybe it would and maybe it wouldn’t.

Even if Congress succeeded in passing bills over my veto, the battle finally would be joined. We finally would have something we haven’t had in my lifetime — a president standing up to Congress.

At long last, there would be two sides arguing in Washington — one to increase government and one to cut it sharply — instead of the current trivial debate over whether government should grow 5 percent a year or “only” 3 percent.

Just say no
No president in the past several decades has had the will, the determination, the courage to “just say no” to Congress.

No president in the past several decades has even tried to reduce the size of government. Any president who wanted to do so could have managed it — even in the face of a hostile Congress.

No president since the 1950s has proposed a single budget that would reduce the size of the federal government. And when Congress has come back with even larger budgets, no president has vetoed them.

Every president who claimed to be against big government has had that veto at his disposal, but none thought enough of your freedom to use it.

As president, I would — for the first time — use that office on your behalf. I would say no to Congress. Whatever new program it wanted to spend money on, I would veto. Whatever new tax it wanted to impose, I would veto. Whatever new intrusion it wanted to make in your life, I would veto.

No deals. No excuses. No apologies. No regrets.

But I would do more than just defend what little freedom you have left today. I would go on the offensive. I wouldn’t rest until the income tax was repealed, the federal government was so small you wouldn’t worry about who was elected president, and you had control over your own money, your own freedom, your own life.

And when we achieved this, we’d have a celebration. Do you remember the German youths who tore down the Berlin Wall and sold pieces of it to us?

Well, we would tear down the IRS building and sell the pieces — and use the proceeds to help IRS agents find honest work.

Do you think any of my plans would appeal to George W. Bush or Al Gore?

Not likely, is it?

So why are we worrying over which one of them will win the current legal mud-wrestling?


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