Who is John Galt?

The victory of the leeches.

Who is John Galt?

What a terrible way to start an article.  I can't think of a more hackneyed phrase to use at this time.  Yet, it seems to fit.

The headlines today have finally made me ask not "Who is John Galt", but "Where is John Galt?"  I think I'm ready to join him.

My only hope is to find someone who can give me standing before the Supreme Court.  I think it's a tough if not impossible sell (and, if we're to believe some of the pundits, more so after Sotomayor's all but certain confirmation).  I think it's the last chance.

The 10th Amendment of the Constitution is very clear:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

I've read and reread the Constitution and I can't find it. I cannot find where the United States government has powers given it to take over and run a business.  I cannot find where the United States government has the powers to lend a private enterprise money.  I cannot find where the United States government has any power to tell a business anything.

For those who have looked on the government's actions with approval, let me ask you a question:  Which laws are OK to break?  I ask in seriousness.

You may argue that the bailouts were necessary.  Government Motors is our only hope.  But that doesn't make the bailouts or takeovers legal.

It's akin to me mugging you at gunpoint and giving the money to a homeless person.  How is my stealing your money for a "good" purpose justified?  We live in a nation of laws, do we not?  Is not the Constitution of the United States of America the law of the land?  Which of those laws is it OK to break?

If that weren't enough, the Constitution also forbids the taking of private property without a) due process and b) just compensation.  Instead, due process was overridden and the bondholders, who were senior creditors, were trashed in favor of the junior creditors.

GM is now owned by a rogue government which stole it from its rightful owners, the investors who had lent money in return for mortgages on its assets.  What else do you call a government operating out of bounds?  What else do you call a government that gives the reins of an industry to someone who knows nothing about it and is, for all intents and purposes, a political hack, a policy wonk?

I've looked and I can't find a logical argument how the government can do this.  It simply isn't constitutionally legal - unless you ask the 1937 Supreme Court, picked and packed by Franklin D. Roosevelt.  They ruled that the "interstate commerce clause" (Section 8) granted Congress the power to regulate some things.

The dike was cracked, the levee was breached, the toe was stuck in the door.  Since then Congress has regulated just about everything - even down to the number of slices of pepperoni on a frozen pizza.  Even if you accepted the 1937 premise that the Constitution grants Congress the authority to regulate the auto business, it is a great stretch to give it authority to run it, much less own the industry.

We seem to think that the 9 men and women in black robes are infallible - they don't make mistakes.  But, they do.

They made a horrible mistake with the Dred Scott case.  Regardless of where you stand on the abortion issue, Roe v. Wade was horrible law.  And in this particular case - the current bailouts - there is no authority in the Constitution to run a business (or pretend to not run a business when reality is different).  Unfortunately, it's unlikely they'll ever even get to consider the case.

So, whom do I sue?  Do I have standing as a taxpaying citizen of the United States of America?  The only other option is to vote them all out of office.  Or, go find John Galt's secret hideaway in the mountains of Colorado.

Where is John Galt when we need him?

Fennoman is a guest writer for Scragged.com.  Read other Scragged.com articles by Fennoman or other articles on Economics.
Reader Comments
Brilliant. Simple. NO ONE in government has any authority to be doing ANY of this. How do we stop them at this point? They ignore the Constitution and their friends in Congress and the Courts let them. Time for American Revolution 2.0?
June 4, 2009 8:35 AM
Was the UAW even "junior creditors"? I can't figure out how they were creditors at all. They were owed health care as ongoing employees; that hardly makes them creditors. If my employer goes bankrupt tomorrow, am I one of his creditors for future health-care that has yet to be paid? I realize the deal that GM struck with the UAW last year but their contracts, if I remember correctly, were contingent on the financial stability of GM.
June 4, 2009 8:39 AM
Fortunately or unfortunately there is no place to run, unless you can fund the creation of a sustainable moon colony. Which leaves us with the option to fix this nation here at home.

The how of that, very unfortunately, seems quite cloudy.
June 4, 2009 8:40 AM
That's the real question - not "Where is John Galt" but "Where is his Gulch?" We need a New World... and there isn't one.

Anybody friends with Burt Rutan?
June 4, 2009 8:55 AM
Good points all. And it does raise the question: WHY is Roe v. Wade considered "law" in the first place? Under that same Constitution, only Congress can pass legislation, not judges from the bench - judges can interpret the Constitutionality of a law, but not invent it from whole cloth.

Yet the "making law from the bench" floodgates certainly opened wide after 1972, didn't they? At state as well as federal levels. For one bright shining moment, during Watergate, the Congress grew a pair and reasserted its Constitutional authority, but it didn't last long.

When the "RvW" decision was made, there needed to be a Jackson-like leader to say "They made their decision, now let them enforce it." But that person didn't exist.
June 4, 2009 9:39 AM
I do not know what exactly the judges in Roe vs Wade gave as their reasoning in their finding. That being said; since the judges found that women had a right to get abortions that right would be protected by the ninth amendment, which states: "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

The ninth amendment could be seen as a way to say that anything is a right and its vagueness would ensure that, if it were a law, it would be struck down. How the ninth amendment is to be used is questionable but it does seem to provide a legitimate reason to prevent governmental action on virtually anything that some wants to consider a right.
June 4, 2009 11:51 AM
Where is John Galt, indeed. Dagny Taggart will not find him today. He's dead. The Gestapo sniffed him out using Google Earth and infrared cameras. We need a new hero for our day. Who is Joe America? Perhaps he is sitting in your chair.
June 4, 2009 11:58 PM
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