California Eggs and the Commerce Clause

Commerce ClauseThe Attorney General of my home state of Missouri just filed a case in federal court over a California law concerning purchasing chicken eggs. The basic premise is that the California legislature has decided that chickens kept in small coops are being abused. Having watched a few videos (graphic content, beware) I can’t say I disagree.

No one is disputing that California can pass laws regulating their own state but what Missouri, Iowa, and other chicken egg producing states are questioning is the effect that it will have on them. Missouri sells about 1.7 billion eggs to California consumers. This represents about 33% of their total sales. When California passes regulations about purchasing it affects states like Missouri.

If Missouri wants to keep those sales it must comply with the California regulation. Thus the lawsuit. Missouri says they are being forced by California to comply with regulations designed for that state. That California is forcing many states to comply with its own regulations. This all falls under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution.

The clause is short and sweet but has had a huge impact on laws in the United States. I will end the suspense right away as to where I stand on this issue. As a Libertarian it is my opinion that the Commerce Clause has been stretched, twisted, and maimed beyond all recognition. It is used in all manner of things well beyond what I consider to be its original intent. It reads: [The Congress shall have Power] To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian tribes;

In this case largely republicans dominated states are angry that they can’t sell to California without abiding by its rules. If you feel that way, go sell your eggs elsewhere. California is a massive state with a huge population and a giant impact on our economy. If you want to do business with them then abide by their laws. The same goes for Texas where there is much debate about the content of schoolbooks based upon Texas laws. If you decide their laws are burdensome and you don’t wish to participate, then don’t. If the price of eggs in California skyrocket maybe they will change their regulatory laws. Maybe other states will decide that the torturing of chickens is disgusting beyond description and pass the same laws themselves. It’s not up to Missouri to decide what California should do or vice-versa.

Anyone wishing to lambaste one party or the other over the implementation of the Commerce Clause merely needs to look at the various cases that include everything from milk, to guns, to health care, to marijuana. Both sides have eagerly and repeatedly attempted to use the clause to extend their own view of government power while attacking the other side for doing the same.

It is an incredible complex question and directly affects the power of the Judicial Branch to overrule the Legislative Branch. It speaks to State’s Rights. When the Judiciary restricts a law it means that judges are overriding the power of elected officials. When states pass laws that hurt other states and this is overruled it means that Congress has power over the states. There are many, many cases and a great deal of literature on the Clause.

I think where the law often goes wrong is when it assumes the federal government has the authority to create a “fair” commercial field. There are examples of the Commerce Clause being used for ostensibly “good” reasons. Result of which made commerce easier and better for American citizens. This is not, in my opinion, a legitimate reason to grant the federal government this power.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Spear of the Hunt
Next Release: The Broken Throne

Offended by a License Plate

Offensive License PlateI just read a story that isn’t that big of a deal except that it happens to have taken place here in my beloved Show Me state of Missouri. A woman was offended by her state issued license plate.

Take a look at the image and see if you can figure it out and then read on.

According to the offended Missourian it reads – Whore Eight Times.

I thought it read Who Rate X?

I’m on record as saying words have power and I will not deny that there are combinations of randomly generated letters and numbers that could and should cause offense. Not many people want a license plate that has truly offensive words on it. The state attempts to avoid this and even refuses to allow relatively innocuous license plates because they might be misconstrued.

In this case the woman could have paid $17 to get a replacement plate but instead, over the principle of the matter, took it to the local news station. The bad publicity eventually got the state to waive the fee and issue a new plate.

The woman claims that people were yelling offensive terms at her when they saw the plate and therefore it was up to the state to replace it. Again, I don’t think this is that big a deal but why should I have to pay for the cost of replacement over something that isn’t blatantly offensive? Someone’s $17 in taxes for the state of Missouri went to cover that replacement.

In addition I’d like to address people who make fun of other people over a license plate. It’s like when you’re a kid and someone makes fun of your name. It’s a state issued license plate. It’s the name you have. When I was ten years old a fellow who happened to have the name Lipschitz provided short-lived amusement. By the time I got to High School it was pretty clear to me and everyone I knew that making fun of a person’s name was juvenile.

So what can we take from all this? People who make fun of random letters on a license plate aren’t worth worrying about. People who tease you because of your name aren’t worth thinking about. They’ve got their own problems. In addition, people who worry about non-offensive things in their life have bigger problems.

Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Spear of the Hunt
Next Release: The Broken Throne

Rock Chalk vs M – I – Z

Missouri - Kansas RivalryThe sports rivalry between the University of Kansas and the University of Missouri will take a big hit when the Tigers officially move to the Southeastern Conference on July 1, 1012. Prior to that the two school met annually on the various playing fields starting in 1891.

I’d like to examine the origins the rivalry and then talk about whether or not I hope that it will continue. So, my loyal followers, put on your time travel caps and get ready for a journey back to a time when the issue of slavery was the dominant question in the United States.

Starting around 1854 the territory of Kansas was preparing to enter the Union of States and the burning issue was if it would be a slave state or a free state. There was a tremendous amount at stake in this decision because the concept of popular sovereignty was sweeping through the country. The idea was that each state would determine its own status as slave owning or not rather than the federal government assigning a status. The slave states desperately wanted Kansas to come in as one of their own because as free states joined the union the institution of slavery became more likely to be outlawed nationally. The free states and Republican Party, formed largely to stamp out the spread of slavery, wanted the opposite.

As Kansas got closer to being a state people from both sides of the slavery issue began to move into the territory hoping to swing the vote one way or the other. Many of the pro-slavery group came from the slave state of Missouri and dubbed themselves Blue Lodges. On the other side a group calling themselves Jayhawkers, formed largely of abolitionists, began to gather to swing the vote against slavery.

From there things got ugly. In the referendum deciding the slavery issue less than half of all voters were actually from the Kansas Territory and slavery won out in a largely illegal vote. The fallout from this rigged vote was that the newly created legislature actually moved from Kansas to Missouri to enact their legislation. Anti-slavery forces formed their own government in Topeka and began to pass their own legislation. President Pierce called this group revolutionary and sided with the pro-slavery forces.

The weakness displayed by Pierce in this time led directly to the Civil War and he is rightly, in my opinion, considered one of the worst presidents in U.S. history.

Violence ensued with John Brown leading the anti-slavery forces. The violence was not limited to the region as Senator Preston Smith Brooks of South Carolina bludgeoned Senator Charles Sumner while a colleague kept other senators at bay with a pistol. Immediately after this incident, Brown led his group against slavery forces hacking five men to death while raiding their home. Violence continued on both sides.

Eventually, after several fraudulent votes, Kansas entered the Union as a free state thanks to the Wyandotte Constitution.

Violence continued between both sides until the end of the Civil War. During the war atrocities occurred with Quantrill’s Raiders being one of the most galvanizing forces. The anti-slavery Jayhawkers and Redlegs were largely based in abolitionist Lawrence, Kansas and used it as a base to stage their raids on pro-slavery Missouri. Quantrill led an attack on Lawrence in 1862 in which his men burned the town and killed many men and boys.

The conclusion of the Civil War and the banning of slavery put an end to the question but bad blood still exists between the two states.

And thus ends our history lesson but now I want to talk about how important is sport in our way of life. Sports provides us with a peaceful outlet for our rivalries. When Kansas and Missouri started their athletic rivalry there were the sons of men who killed each other on the teams. They fought on the field of play and shook hands after the game. That’s an improvement if you ask me.

My hatred of the New England Patriots, the Chicago Cubs, and the Detroit Red Wings stems from sports rivalries with my hometown teams. Go Rams, Cards, and Blues! However; I have no interest in killing the fans of the other teams – misguided as their loyalty might be. 🙂

Sport is a good thing and I hope that the athletic directors of Kansas and Missouri can overcome their momentary anger and remember that Missouri leaving the Big 12 is not nearly as horrible as what happened prior to and during the Civil War. The fact that the two schools have become peaceful rivals gives me hope that all antagonistic forces can one day put down their weapons and take their fight to the field of play. Even the radical elements of Islam and the western world.

Isn’t a good game, win or lose, better than killing each other?

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist

Teaser – Rock Chalk vs M – I – Z

Missouri - Kansas Rivalry
Yep, tomorrow I expound on the nature of the rivalry between Missouri and Kansas and the potential for it to end with the Tigers moving to the Southeastern Conference. If you think you know everything about Quantrill’s Raiders, slavery, and the movement for statehood in Kansas you might just be wrong!

Stay tuned and I’ll fill you in on the not so pleasant details and tell you if I think the rivalry should continue or vanish into a sunset.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist