06 August 2008

Constitutional Authority

There is a discussion on one of the mailing lists I belong to over the future of the East Broad Top Railroad

The long-time owners of the railroad have been bled dry over the last 50+ years operating this little Pennsylvania short-line as a tourist operation. They are to be commended for their efforts, but the burden is getting too great for them to bear. They are looking to sell it off.

The Friends of the East Broad Top, of which I am a member, is understandably concerned about the railroad's fate. The mailing list is alive with speculation and ideas.

One of the ideas being bandied about is a Federal bail-out, or outright Federal ownership. The EBT is on the National Registry after all.

I think it's a bad idea, because I don't see a Constitutional authority for such an option. For this I have been called an anti-Government Kool-Aid drinker.

I spent 20 years of my life in the service of my country, pledging an oath to defend and support the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. I tend to take that oath seriously, even though it's been more than 3 years since I was last bound by that oath. And since I did pledge my life to defend it, I figured it was a good idea to have at least an idea of what it says.

Surprise surprise, there is nothing in there that says anything about owning railroads. I made this point once before.

There is also nothing in there about a National Parks Service, about a Department of Energy, or a Department of Education. In short, the Feds do a lot of things that are not Constitutionally authorized, and I think it's a bad idea all around.

I'm not saying that some of these agencies don't have a good purpose (regardless if they are doing a good job or not), I'm saying there's no Constitutional authority for them. I regularly get flamed for such a radical notion, but it won't stop me from having it.

As I said on the list, I want the EBT to be saved. I just want it to be saved legitimately.

Photo from the East Broad Top website


Blackiswhite, Imperial Agent Provocateur said...

Shouldn't be considered for the government teat...putting there will doom it to the state of indifferent ineffeciency, forever to operate in the red. Like Amtrak.

Larry said...

Indeed there is that, after all the USG does so many other things so well.
But it has been operating "in the red" for 50+ years now, so that's nothing new either.
My main point is that there is nothing in the rulebook (the Constitution) that says the USG can own the East Broad Top Railroad.
Thanks for dropping by!