Trades are not unheard of in politics, but somehow they rarely exhibit the up-front honesty and clarity of the trades that make up the bulk of our economic life. When I go to the super-market, or the record store, or Wal-Mart, I pretty much know what I’m getting and what I’m giving up.
Not so clear, though, in politics.
Take Arizona’s “Hunting and Fishing Amendment,” Proposition 109 on this November’s ballot. Much has been made of the first element of the ballot’s title, establishing a “constitutional right” to hunt and fish. Outdoorsmen love it.
But a second element gives to the state legislature “Exclusive authority” to regulate hunting and fishing, which may grant regulatory power to various wildlife commissions.
It basically disallows Arizona’s citizens from future influence through the initiative and referendum. That’s what citizens trade away for the first part. Citizens get a “right” to hunt and fish “lawfully,” a right they already have, but give up their current rights to influence what that “lawfully” means, via the ballot.
Prop 109 also declares that hunting and fishing would be the preferred means of controlling wildlife, and it says that “no law shall be enacted” that “unreasonably restricts” hunting and fishing, etc.
Of course, constitutions can say “no law” all they want. History shows legislatures don’t abide by that prohibition. Neither do courts.
Just read the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and consider . . . and cringe.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.