What you don’t know may be killing you…

Article 1, Section 1 of the Indiana Constitution says that “…the People have, at all times, an indefeasible right to alter and reform their government.”  

So citizens are, by both the practice of voting and by our specific law, totally in charge of Indiana, and there is no excuse for blaming anyone else…except perhaps the excuse of ignorance.  And ignorance is not a good idea right now.  We are in troubled times.

Constitutions are leashes on politicians’ power, not on our rights.  I am certain that we’d not have any our most serious social problems if politicians would obey constitutions as written. 

But you wouldn’t know this without reading the contract, so let’s touch a few key points from the Indiana Constitution:

Article 1, Section 12. Justice shall be administered freely, and without purchase; completely, and without denial; speedily, and without delay.” 

It makes sense that your taxes should pay for courts and trials instead of for Colts.  Duh.  But does this clear law bear any resemblance to judicial practice in Indiana?  Have you tried to stand before a court quickly and without purchase?  What the heck happened here?

Article 1, Section 19. In all criminal cases whatever, the jury shall have the right to determine the law and the facts.” 

This means that citizen jurors, not lawyers, and not judges, determine what the law means, and how it applies to the case at hand.  Is this what judges and lawyers tell juries?  No, it is not.

Article 1, Section 22. The privilege of the debtor to enjoy the necessary comforts of life, shall be recognized by wholesome laws, exempting a reasonable amount of property from seizure or sale, for the payment of any debt or liability hereafter contracted: and there shall be no imprisonment for debt, except in case of fraud.”

So if a home isn’t one of the necessary comforts of life, what is?  What other property could this be talking about…silverware?  …satellite TV?  …isn’t a place to rest your head a pretty fundamental comfort of life?  It’s clear in these words that a person’s home cannot be legally seized and sold to pay for any state tax!

Article 8 of the Constitution is one of the more clearly-written parts of Indiana’s Constitution.  Ironically, it is perhaps the most abused area of state law and political practice. 

It is in Article 8, Section 1 that Hoosiers are promised “…a general and uniform system of Common Schools, wherein tuition shall without charge, and equally open to all.”

…Uniform?  What is uniform about our school system?  We have a terribly unfair mix of college-like campuses, wealthy neighborhood palaces, crumbling heaps, and of course, lots and lots of administration buildings. 

It was decided long ago that books aren’t a part of the tax-paid expenses, as they’re not clearly mentioned in Article 8.  But we’ve since apparently decided that swimming pools, stadiums and cafeterias are a part of schools. 

Does this make any sense?

Sports facilities used to be what Community Centers were for; and kids were expected to bring their own lunches to school (or poor kids could get box lunches delivered).  How in the world did we figure that sports and Coke machines are more important to education than are…books? 

And does it make any sense at all that state-supported football coaches get paid more than all the top elected officials in the state…put together?

Much of the core problem is that we’ve devolved and “consolidated” state common schools into a local/state hybrid, with money and much planning/building authority coming from local taxes and local spending authorities that defeat the point of state funding and, obviously, the possibility of state-wide uniformity in any way.

This is what killed community centers, community schools and more significantly, opportunity.  We have fewer, larger schools than we used to, which means that not only are kids smaller fish in bigger oceans, but they have less chance of playing football in the multimillion dollar stadia.  They have less chance of playing chess, or playing tuba, or singing in the Senior Play. 

After school, the kids who aren’t tall enough for basketball, or smart enough for the Debate Team, have no place to go for wholesome diversion.

And we really screwed up how we pay for it all this madness:

“Article 8, Section 3. The principal of the Common School fund shall remain a perpetual fund, which may be increased, but shall never be diminished; and the income thereof shall be inviolably appropriated to the support of Common Schools, and to no other purpose whatever.”

…Principal?  …Perpetual fund?  Good idea!  It is a crime, literally, that we don’t do anything like this. 

But read Article 8, Section 2 very carefully.  It lays out from where the state can collect money that doesn’t come from the endowment fund, and personal property is not mentioned.  Only “…Taxes on the property of corporations, that may be assessed by the General Assembly for common school purposes.

It’s only corporate property tax that’s to be used for schools! 

Do you have any idea how much this would reduce your property tax bill?!? 

But wait, there’s more!  The Indiana Constitution isn’t nearly as good as our federal constitution, but it’s far, far better than what our politicians are doing to us…

Article 10, Section 5, No law shall authorize any debt to be contracted, on behalf of the State, except in the following cases: to meet casual deficits in the revenue; to pay the interest on the State Debt; to repel invasion, suppress insurrection, or, if hostilities be threatened, provide for the public defense.

Deficits in revenue are not the same as deficits in desired spending.  Governor Daniels has actually been the best guardian of the treasury we’ve had in years, so this isn’t as much of a problem now as in years past.  But most of Indiana’s debt has been illegal.

Section 6. No county shall subscribe for stock in any incorporated company, unless the same be paid for at the time of such subscription; nor shall any county loan its credit to any incorporated company, nor borrow money for the purpose of taking stock in any such company; nor shall the General Assembly ever, on behalf of the State, assume the debts of any county, city, town, or township; nor of any corporation whatever.

Colts, Pacers…lots of corporations would oppose what this clearly says; because it says that an awful lot of what government spends your money on is illegal.

Article 11, Section 12. The State shall not be a stockholder in any bank; nor shall the credit of the State ever be given, or loaned, in aid of any person, association or corporation; nor shall the State become a stockholder in any corporation or association.

Read that a few times.  Let it roll around in your head.  This would wipe out an awful lot of our troubles.  This is even clearer than article 6 in legally prohibiting much of what our government does with our money.  Remember, Indiana’s current constitution was written (and the old one scrapped) because of over-investment in the Erie Canal system (note: this was public transportation…not sports teams).  Those earlier politicians didn’t want to break the bank again by “investing” in anything.

ARTICLE 15., Section 4. Every person elected or appointed to any office under this Constitution, shall, before entering on the duties thereof, take an oath or affirmation, to support the Constitution of this State, and of the United States, and also an oath of office.

So anyone who holds any office mentioned in the constitution is under the authority of constitutions, both state and federal.  And they must obey these constitutions.  Simple as that.

Our jobs, products, health, education and welfare should be as plentiful and effective as computer technology; with as much range of price and quality as with coffee, or shoes.  Our lives should be more up to us, and less directed by politics.  But illegal laws get in the way.

Whose fault is this?

Well, now you know.  There is no longer any excuse for it.  We need to snap the leash back on our politicians…and of course take it off of us.


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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. “It makes sense that your taxes should pay for courts…instead of for Colts.”

    Excellent line. Mind if I borrow it?

    Another good line: A few years ago you mentioned that schools spend millions of tax dollars for gymnasiums so five tall guys can play basketball.

    Your views resonate well, but how to get “the masses” (borrowing the Marxist term; actually, they’re individuals) to respond is the question yet to be answered.

    My worry is that too many Libertarians are willing to toss their principles to the wind to chase special-interest-group rights that run contrary to our principles. Dare to challenge them and risk being ostracized.

  2. Thanks, Kenn. I live for such challenges. I wish I knew how to be effective, but challenges may be all I get.
    The good news is that I don’t think we need to reach “the masses.” Most people can never be reached so much as lead. More good news is that history is determined by the passionate few.
    The bad news is that typically, the successful passionate few are the Bad Guys.
    The good news I’m clinging to is that sometimes (however rarely), the passionate few are the Good Guys.

  3. Too bad you decided to jam a lot of provisions together at one time instead of one or even three at a time. The Indiana State Constitution deserves more attention. I believe we are the only state not to have a constitutional convention in the 20th century.

    Article I, Section 1 deserves a lot of close study. Closer than what our Attorney General’s office was willing to give it few years ago. It is probably best recognized as being lifted from the Declaration of Independence. The segment you quoted preserves our natural right to change the constitution by revolution if necessary. However, Indiana is not a democracy but a representative democracy.

    As for Article I, Section 12, you misread that purchase part. Basically, no bribing of judges is the idea. Now, if we could get some dollars for more judges then things might move a bit faster.

    You are completely wrong about Article I, Section 19. It sounds as if you never tried a criminal jury trial. Every criminal defense attorney wants this in. The real problem with this provision is that no one really knows what it means. The appellate courts hate it, about 80 years ago there was an article in an Indiana Bar magazine wanting it to go away, and it has only one analog and that is in the Maryland Bill of Rights. Justice Rucker of the Indiana Supreme Court wrote an article several years back on this provision (which I must admit to not having read in full) that ought to be worth reading.

    I do not have much time – kids got to be fed before school and all that – but I think I see one problem with your discussion of the Common School Fund. That fund is a state fund. The property taxes on your home are local taxes, not state taxes. They do not go into the common fund.

    Really, you should have stuck to just a few provisions. Article 8, Section 1 deserves a much deeper examination.

  4. thanks for the comments, Sam, but I think you’re missing some of my points or I’m misreading your words.
    See my latest post.

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