Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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The other day I came into the kitchen and caught my flatmate and a friend... studying the constitution (although it's called Grundgesetz, basic law). For some law/politics related exam. So I joined and quizzed them a bit. It contains fun paragraphs like

Artikel 22 [Bundesflagge]
Die Bundesflagge ist schwarz-rot-gold.
(The flag is black-red-gold, not yellow, mind you!),
Artikel 27 [Handelsflotte]
Alle deutschen Kauffahrteischiffe bilden eine einheitliche Handelsflotte.
(Something about trade ships and that they form a merchant fleet. I don't really know what that's supposed to mean, but it sounds funny.) And the shortest article:
Artikel 31 [Vorrang des Bundesrechts]
Bundesrecht bricht Landesrecht.
(Federal law beats state law.) And so on. There's also the article that forbids preparing an offensive war. I wonder how bad breaking the constitution is and how hard punishment would be compared to breaking other laws. Of course there are more boring parts after that, detailing how parliament works, how the federal system works, budget stuff, administration stuff, lawmaking stuff, courts stuff, war stuff....

I got a copy of the constitution at school just after reunification. There were some major changes back then as the previously there was an article concerning reunification which then wasn't needed anymore. Now I learned that there have been a few more changes since. Concerning Europe and apparently even adding animal rights. I ordered an up to date copy, just in case. Along with some extra brochures on the new EU member states. There's quite a bit of mostly free or very cheap material available.

Across the pond, the constitution is much older and people are very proud of it. They don't even seem to tinker with it directly (as can be done here, given a big majority in parliament or so), but just 'amend' it. In the weekly supplement of New York Times articles to our daily newspaper I read that some people want to amend their constitution to ban gay marriage. Does that pay proper respect to the constitution?

There are two things coming to my mind. First, how could anybody have a stronger sentiment against this than indifference? If gay couples want to make the mistake and walk down that aisle road, let them. How will your average law-abiding, overweight, wife-beating Texan christian nutter (oops, stereotypes?) benefit from this? Or how would he be harmed, if other people can get married? I've got not idea. And I think I'll never understand that aspect of the conservative mindset that makes people strive to interfere with other people's lives because of their own opinions. (+ point out irony that those are usually the people who like laissez-faire politics vis-à-vis business.)

Secondly, with divorce being the word that comes to mind when hearing marriage – almost every other time for real, even, it seems, it seems that the main benefactors of the institution of marriage are or will soon be lawyers. Many areas of life seem to gradually move into the direction of lawyers being the main benefactors. And I think the healthy solution would be to simply ban those aspects and improve everyone's lives that way. So if you fiddle with amending the constitution, just go and ban marriage outright. That way nobody can complain.

This would be another step my quest to eliminate unworthy professions. Another part of my plan is to make companies not only put nutrition information on the food they sell, but also make them state which percentage of the price they charge goes to lawyers and marketing. (Same for non-fodd as well, of course). That way, I can be a better consumer, make better-informed decisions and thus can make glorious capitalism work even better.

July 24, 2004, 13:47


Comment by d.w.: User icon

The U.S. Constitution is notoriously difficult to modify, by design (only 17 changes in 215 years) — changes require super-majorities in both houses of Congress and in the states. This has kept some notoriously harebrained ideas (an amendment banning flag burning, the “stacking” of the Supreme Court) from going forward. Arguably the dumbest amendment, Prohibition (amendment 18, here: http://www.house.gov/Constitution/Amend.html ) was repealed a dozen years later, after providing billions of dollars in revenue to organized crime.

Thankfully, the conservative religious yahoo vote can’t muster the votes needed to enshrine their agenda in the constitution — a gay marriage amendment doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of being ratified in 36 states.

July 24, 2004, 21:52

Comment by ssp: User icon

Interesting to see how amendments are getting longer and longer. Another negative aspect of the times where lawyers rule perhaps.

Reminds me a bit of the little sign my dad bought years ago. It goes something like (actual numbers may vary): Pythagoras theorem: 20 words, the ten commandments: 120 words, the declaration of independence: 1300 words, legislation on where you can and cannot smoke: 25000 words.

July 25, 2004, 2:25

Comment by Michel Galle: User icon

I like your plan.

Lawyers madness and religious fanatism.. both things really bothering me.

July 25, 2004, 15:08

Comment by ckd: User icon

I like Artikel 27, it sounds like a rule quote from an Andreas Seafarth game (“Puerto Rico”) or something. Perhaps that’s where all the great German game designers are getting their ideas.

Is there anything in there about victory points?

July 26, 2004, 16:19

Comment by ssp: User icon

I’m afraid ‘victory points’ have gone out of fashion since the whole ‘Sieg heil’ stuff in the nazi era. Indeed the constitution even asserts that it is forbidden to prepare an offensive war (§26), and only speaks about defence (§115 Verteidigungsfall) when it comes to fighting.

While the lawyers apparently know ways around this, … at least intuitively you should think that invading Iraq, say, is simply unconstitutional.

July 26, 2004, 20:26

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