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If It Doesn't Say You Can, You Can't!

Saturday, April 30, 2005

I was reading a couple of articles this morning that were discussing the growth in government's power over the past 100 years or so. Most of the articles pointed to one major factor that lead to rapid expansion of government... war. The other factors included judicial interpretation of the Constitution to allow certain other expansions. With time, those interpretations proved to be questionable, at best; but most are just out-and-out power grabs. After reading these various articles, I was reminded of an old racing rule that was repeated to me several times when I tried my hand at auto racing...

When I was about 19, I decided that I was going to make a name for myself in auto racing. I had big dreams of being the next Earnhardt or Wallace. I didn't realize that it also required a huge financial commitment to follow through on those aspirations. Nonetheless, I purchased a "rolling chassis" and set to work building a racecar. The first thing I did was get a rulebook for the class I was going to race in. I knew that if I was going to spend my hard-earned money building a car, I was going to do it within the rules prescribed by the racing association. After reviewing all the many rules, way down at the very bottom of the list was the final -- and probably most important -- rule of all, "If It Doesn't Say You Can, You Can't!!!"

What an extremely simple rule! If you are trying to do something to your car, and you can't find a reference to it in the rule book, you can't do it. In other words, "Stop right now, because it is not allowed. You will be in violation of the rules. Period!" I asked a good friend of mine, that was on the committee that helped make the rules for the racing association, about this particular rule. She told me that the reason this rule came to be was because the sport had gotten so competitive that the racing teams were constantly pushing the envelope on what was considered acceptable for their racing class. Some well-financed teams were using parts on their cars that were way to expensive for the other teams that were Father-Son operations. Their actions began to erase the competitive nature of the sport. The scope of the racing class was being pushed aside by big money. The argument was made that those teams wanting to run "performance enhancing" parts needed to move up to higher racing classes. It was a sound argument, so the rule was created to protect the "little guy" racer.

It seems that we, the citizenry, may need to follow the wisdom of the auto racing rule-makers and demand our States create a new amendment to the U.S. Constitution:

Amendment XXVIII
If It Doesn't Say You Can, You Can't.

The rule is simple and clear (...but so is the rest of the Constitution). Occasionally, we need to remind government that it has certain functions to perform. Namely, those found in Article I, Section 8. Nothing less; and most certainly, nothing more!


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