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Spying on Children

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Here's the latest reason to pass "Read the Bills" . . .

On September 17, the House passed the "School Safety Enhancements Act

of 2008."

My first thought was, "The DC Upsizers are at it again!"

My second thought was that the Constitution gives Congress no

authority over public safety, except on federal property. This power

is left to the states.

But even aside from this, the bill implies something distressing --

that state and local governments are incapable of preserving public

safety without Congressional help. But if the states really lack the

will and competence to keep schoolchildren safe then they must also

be incapable of governing at all. This would imply that, but for

Congress, our country would be a nation of 50 Somalias.

This just isn't true.

But when you read the bill, you realize it isn't about school

"safety" at all.


The bill expands an already-existing (and unnecessary) grant program

for local governments to install metal detectors on school grounds.

The bill increases the funding from $30 million to $50 million per

year. Worse, it specifically expands the program to include funding

for "surveillance equipment."

This, on top of Real ID, Animal ID, TWIC, warrantless spying . . .

Perhaps if the younger generation are always being watched at school,

they'll get used to it and won't mind the same on the streets, at

their jobs, or in their homes.

Do you want to know how your Represenatitive voted for this atrocity?

Too bad. Congress couldn't be bothered with a roll call vote; it

passed under "suspension of the rules" by voice vote. (Somehow,

though, they <i>did</i> find time for a roll call vote on whether to

name a post office building after Theodore Roosevelt.)

Indeed, this "School Safety" bill contained just 8 of the 875 pages

of legislation Congress has passed from September 8-20. (The Senate

passed 1,185 pages over the same period; a list of the bills can be

found below my signature in the blog version of this Dipsatch.)


A lot of them "upsize DC," just as this School "Safety" Act does.

Would it have passed if the Read the Bills Act was in force?

The Read the Bills Act requires that every bill considered by

Congress must be publicly read before a quorum in Congress. 875 pages

would take a long time to read. Congress would have to set priorities

and consider only the most urgent and necessary bills.

The public reading serves another purpose. Thousands of bills are

proposed each year, and it's difficult to keep track of which bill

will get out of committee and go to the floor for a vote. The public

reading of a bill would alert us that Congress is serious about

passing a particular bill.

Moreover, the final version of the bill would have to be posted on

the Internet for seven days before it comes to a vote, giving

individuals and grassroots groups time to study the bill and provide


UNder the "Read the Bills Act" legislation like this "School Safety

Act" might never have reached the floor in Congress, and if it did,

groups like Downsize DC could have defeated it.

This is why we need the Read the Bills Act. Tell Congress to stop

rushing through so many bills. Tell them you resent the "School

Safety Enhancements Act" and that you don't want Congress spending

your tax dollars to spy on children. Tell them to prevent bills like

it from surfacing again by passing the Read the Bills Act. You can do

so here. <http://www.downsizedc.org/etp/campaigns/27>

Thank you for being part of our growing Downsize DC Army.

James Wilson

Assistant to the President



                                               Look at the flowers

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