James Leroy Wilson's blog

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Spying on Children

Quote of the Day:
"It's called the American Dream because you have to be asleep to believe in it".
-- George Carlin

Subject: Spying on Children

On Monday we made the case that had we passed the "Read the Bills Act" and the "One Subject at a Time Act" back in the 90s, the Big Bailout could not have passed last Friday.

If there had been a huge army of DC Downsizers back then, able to achieve universal visibility, and relentless, overwhelming pressure, the government laws, regulations, and programs that have led to the housing bubble and bust could also have been averted.

What was true then, remains true now. The seeds of future disasters are being sown even now, because this is what government does. It creates a crisis, and then exploits the resulting hysteria to gain new powers with which to create even larger disasters. But the cure for this disease also remains the same -- the big army, Operation Everywhere, and passage of "Read the Bills" and "One Subject at a Time."

Here's the latest reason to pass "Read the Bills" . . .

On September 17, the House passed the "School Safety Enhancements Act of 2008."

My first thought was, "The DC Upsizers are at it again!"

My second thought was that the Constitution gives Congress no authority over public safety, except on federal property. This power is left to the states.

But even aside from this, the bill implies something distressing -- that state and local governments are incapable of preserving public safety without Congressional help. But if the states really lack the will and competence to keep schoolchildren safe then they must also be incapable of governing at all. This would imply that, but for Congress, our country would be a nation of 50 Somalias.

This just isn't true.

But when you read the bill, you realize it isn't about school "safety" at all.

The bill expands an already-existing (and unnecessary) grant program for local governments to install metal detectors on school grounds. The bill increases the funding from $30 million to $50 million per year. Worse, it specifically expands the program to include funding for "surveillance equipment."

This, on top of Real ID, Animal ID, TWIC, warrantless spying . . . Perhaps if the younger generation are always being watched at school, they'll get used to it and won't mind the same on the streets, at their jobs, or in their homes.

Do you want to know how your Representitive voted for this atrocity? Too bad. Congress couldn't be bothered with a roll call vote; it passed under "suspension of the rules" by voice vote. (Somehow, though, they did find time for a roll call vote on whether to name a post office building after Theodore Roosevelt.)

Indeed, this "School Safety" bill contained just 8 of the 875 pages of legislation Congress has passed from September 8-20. (The Senate passed 1,185 pages over the same period; a list of the bills can be found below my signature in the blog version of this Dipsatch.)

A lot of them "upsize DC," just as this School "Safety" Act does.

Would it have passed if the Read the Bills Act was in force?

The Read the Bills Act requires that every bill considered by Congress must be publicly read before a quorum in Congress. 875 pages would take a long time to read. Congress would have to set priorities and consider only the most urgent and necessary bills.

The public reading serves another purpose. Thousands of bills are proposed each year, and it's difficult to keep track of which bill will get out of committee and go to the floor for a vote. The public reading of a bill would alert us that Congress is serious about passing a particular bill.

Moreover, the final version of the bill would have to be posted on the Internet for seven days before it comes to a vote, giving individuals and grassroots groups time to study the bill and provide feedback.

UNder the "Read the Bills Act" legislation like this "School Safety Act" might never have reached the floor in Congress, and if it did, groups like Downsize DC could have defeated it.

This is why we need the Read the Bills Act. Tell Congress to stop rushing through so many bills. Tell them you resent the "School Safety Enhancements Act" and that you don't want Congress spending your tax dollars to spy on children. Tell them to prevent bills like it from surfacing again by passing the Read the Bills Act. You can do so here.

Thank you for being part of our growing Downsize DC Army.

James Wilson
Assistant to the President
DownsizeDC.org

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