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Authors: Glen Tate

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Manufacturing, farming, fishing, and logging took off overnight. There were plenty of good jobs and lots of products. Prices were reasonable because there wasn’t layer upon layer of taxes and regulation artificially driving up the price.

In the southern and western states, which had broken away from the FUSA and were having booms of their own, domestic energy production shot up. Gasoline from there was plentiful and cheap in New Washington. And no more wars in the Middle East to fight, at least not with Americans fighting them, because the need for oil was gone. Grant would shake his head and wonder why in the world this hadn’t been done sooner.

New Washington rebuilt infrastructure much differently than the old state had done it. New Washington did it much more cheaply after the repeal of “prevailing wage” laws that ensured unions got all work, and the repeal of the layers and layers of complete overkill environmental regulations. And, of course, New Washington contracted out almost all of the work. There was now transparent and fair contracting; no inside deals. Total and complete disclosure of everything about the contracting. Corruption in contracting carried the death penalty. The past theft by contractors for the old state would not be tolerated.

Civil liberties were a huge part of the plan. Not “civil liberties” in the ACLU sense of the term, which they turned into meaning a “right” to welfare. No, real civil liberties, which meant protecting individual liberties, all the time, not just when it served a political agenda.

The New Washington government’s “plan” for civil liberties was extremely simple: follow the Constitution. Grant would laugh when people asked him if such a simple plan could work. He would ask them, “How did the Limas’ ‘sophisticated’ plans work out?”

A very good constitution to follow already existed. As good as the United States Constitution was, the old Washington State Constitution was actually better. Written in 1889, it had all the good stuff from the 1789 U.S. Constitution, but a hundred years of more wisdom in it. The old Washington State Constitution had amazing rights in it, but they were never actually followed by the old state. That was the problem: magnificent rights that were never followed. From the first few meetings of the Constitutional Convention Grant attended as a delegate, the general consensus was that the new Constitution would tweak the old one to make sure it didn’t slowly get whittled away, but all the good stuff would remain in the new version.

Now that they had a chance to start over and draft a constitution that truly protected civil liberties, and now that they had graphically seen what a few hundred years of chipping away at those rights led to, the people in New Washington had a very clear idea of what their new Constitution would say.

Government could no longer take things. Laws against takings without just compensation were strengthened. And takings through taxation was addressed by limiting taxes.

Not only would taxes be capped at a low rate, but the new Constitution would prohibit differing tax rates. New Washington would have flat taxes. The old system of huge tax rates for productive people while no one else effectively paying any led to a small percentage of productive people paying the freight for the large majority.

Another improvement in the new Constitution was that due process of law would actually mean something. No more “administrative hearings” that were kangaroo courts to rubber stamp the government’s decisions. Grant had seen plenty of those in the past. Now, juries would decide almost all things. Just like at Pierce Point, Grant thought. Under the new Constitution, it would take a jury to decide whether the state could take away people’s kids, not some social worker filling out a form. It was the same for mental illness commitments. And, in criminal cases, juries would get to hear the accused describe why he or she thought the law being enforced was unjust. The jury could decide to acquit if the law was indeed unjust. That would be a big deterrent to malicious prosecutions and a huge check on government power. What a tremendous power to let twelve people veto the application of an unjust law. It would be back in the new Constitution.

The new state Constitution had a few “no, really” clauses, as Grant called them. They laid out a civil liberty and then emphasized how important they were by basically saying “no, really don’t infringe this right.”

One of the “no, really” clauses—perhaps the most important and effective one—appeared in the sections on the judiciary. After describing that judges’ only obligation is to protect individual liberties and to neutrally apply constitutional laws duly passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor, this was added: “Any decision of a judge in derogation of these obligations subjects that judge to a recall vote of the people.” Grant, having been an informal judge out at Pierce Point could understand how effective this would be. Now a bad decision infringing on civil liberties, coupled with a reasonably significant number of signatures on a petition, would put that judge on the ballot to keep his or her job. An enormous incentive to not do what the old state’s judges did.

Drugs were decriminalized, but truly scary drugs, like meth, could be criminalized, though it would take a two-thirds vote of both houses of the Legislature and the signature of the Governor. This was a compromise because many people wanted total drug decriminalization.

This showed the debate among the pure libertarians and the “practical” libertarians. Grant considered himself one of the “practical” ones. He had basically run a small community and saw things slightly differently than the “pure” libertarians, but not too differently.

“Civil forfeiture,” which was where the police and prosecutors got to keep whatever it was they seized in a case would be eliminated. Getting the cash had been the prime motive in many prosecutions. That was over now.

Searches would be curtailed. A warrant would be required in almost every case. Searches would be rare, as they were intended to be by the Founders of the country.

This did not mean that crime was made easier with the new Constitution. A one-strike law was authorized for rape. One time and that person went to prison for life. Egregious cases, such as rape of a child, got the offender the death penalty. However, conviction required the testimony of two witnesses. Gone were the days of an ex-wife in a divorce case sending a man to jail and ruining his life with no evidence.

Restraining orders were changed. Grant was shocked to learn that, right up until the Collapse, a person could go to a kiosk—a little ATM-like machine—in a mall and simply say a person was harassing them and then a restraining order would be signed by a judge back in a court room. It was that easy: get mad at someone, go to a kiosk in the mall, and then get a restraining order against them, thereby ruining their life. There had been no need to even go to a court and look a judge in the eye, let alone have a jury decide if this person was really a harasser. That ended. In New Washington, the way to prevent people from harassing you was now to exercise your right to keep and bear arms.

The new state Constitution had a “no, really” clause in its version of the Second Amendment. The new version stated that the right to have and use weapons could not be limited by registration, permits, taxes, or licenses of any kind. The new Constitution provided that this right was not only for personal defense, but “to equip the people to ensure, as a practical matter, that the government honors its obligation to protect individual liberties,” and added that: “Infringements on the right to keep and bear arms, however seemingly slight at the time, will not be tolerated by the people, who have the right to overthrow any government attempting to infringe their rights.” That was a not-so-subtle threat.

To keep the government honest and to protect citizens, New Washington needed a militia, but not with that name, which had too many negative connotations. The new state constitution provided for the “Civil Guard,” which was voluntary and open to all men and women of a certain age. The officers of the Civil Guard would be elected by the members of the unit. The Civil Guard would answer to the people, not the government. The name “Civil Guard” was intentionally picked to contrast it from the “State Guard,” which answered to the state. The Civil Guard was specifically described in the new state Constitution as a check on the power of the government, which would prevent the Civil Guard from becoming a political goon squad like the FCorps had become. The State Guard would maintain a small full-time force that largely existed to be able to train and equip the Civil Guard in times of emergency.

 

Chapter 333

Fixing New Washington II

(February – December)

 

 

Of course, the FUSA no longer existed except for on paper. The FUSA issued proclamations, demands, and pathetic court orders to the wayward states, but had no power to tell the free states what to do. It was limited to bossing around California, which was still in the FUSA, as well as the east coast states. Many states in the Midwest had broken into two parts, like New Washington: a Patriot new state and a Lima old state. The FUSA was a patchwork of little states and territories.

This made sense to Grant. The FUSA, with over three hundred million people, half a continent of land, and some extremely different cultures (Texas versus New York) had become too big to be one country. Grant thought about all the free republics of the past in Greece and the middle ages in Europe. They had a few million people at most and one basic culture. It worked just fine for a republic that small. Look at the original thirteen colonies; a small population and roughly similar culture.

New Washington was the same way. It had a reasonable-sized population and a similar culture since Seattle was not included. New Washington had a good chance of succeeding as a small republic, like Pierce Point did on a mini scale.

New Washington would consider being part of a union with the other free states and it was a decision that would be weighed for quite some time. There was no rush; New Washington was doing well on its own. It traded with the southern and western states. Business was booming. It was still small compared to the pre-Collapse economy, but was growing every day. People could feel that a real economic recovery was happening and they got to keep the money they earned for a change.

There were several currencies in use. Many local areas had Free Dollars, which were redeemable in gold or silver by free banks, like the ones issued by Joe Tantori’s bank.

In addition to local free bank currencies, the people of New Washington had quickly adopted the southern and western states’ currency, the New Dollar. There was no government decision on what currency to use; people just starting using the New Dollar because it made sense. That was the magic of a free market.

The New Dollar was actually backed by gold, silver, and, indirectly, oil. A person could take a New Dollar into any bank in the southern and western states, and eventually a New Washington bank, and walk out with gold or silver. They couldn’t walk out with a barrel of oil, but oil was indirectly backing the New Dollar. The southern and western states had plenty of oil and used it to buy gold and silver that was then used to back the New Dollar.

There was no inflation wherever the New Dollar was in circulation and people flocked to the New Dollar for that reason. This increased the economic and political influence of the southern and western states. Everyone wanted to hitch their cart to the economic powerhouse of these states.

There was no burning reason for New Washington to formally join a union of the southern or western states, however. That certainly might eventually happen, but New Washington had a stable currency courtesy of the New Dollar, so joining a union of states wasn’t necessary to have a currency. No one was trying to invade New Washington, so they didn’t need military alliances, which could suck New Washington into a war it didn’t want. Why get dragged into some border dispute between Wyoming and Nebraska or whatever just to be in a union of states with Wyoming? No, joining a union of states had to make sense to the people of New Washington. They were thinking about it. It was a big decision and any treaty to join a union of states would be voted on by the people. They had seen what being part of a too-large union of states ended up getting them.

A much bigger debate among the people of New Washington than whether to join the southern and western states was what to do about the “Seattle question,” as it became known. Should New Washington force Seattle to join it? To reunite the state so it had its old borders?

Most people in New Washington initially wanted a forceful reunification with Seattle. There was something mesmerizing about the old borders of the state. The whole state had to be under one flag.

But then most people thought about it and decided Seattle, rotting, dying, and gasping for life, could remain a part of the FUSA for as long as it wanted. Most people realized that with free and prosperous New Washington as a shining example, people in Seattle would start to voluntarily come to New Washington. That’s how New Washington would eventually regain Seattle: when everyone in Seattle wanted back into a functioning state like New Washington. The Patriots weren’t in a hurry. They had lots to fix in New Washington.

Religion was another topic that needed some reform, or, actually, just some freedom. There was a massive return to religion after the Collapse. So many people had experiences that led them to believe in a higher power. Most of the people from Pierce Point and the 17th fit into this category.

The New Washington Constitution created a very clear separation of church and state. Government was not to be in the religion business; that was a purely private affair, but the New Washington Constitution would not allow silly bans on religious life. No more suspending kindergartners for saying “Merry Christmas.” The New Washington Constitution would do what the federal Constitution was supposed to do before judges perverted it, which was to ban the government from “establishing” an official government-sanctioned religion, not to ban people from exercising their religions. Government allowing kids to say “Merry Christmas” was not “establishing” a religion; it was allowing people to exercise them. But requiring kids in public schools to pray was forcing religion on people, so that would not be tolerated.

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