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Tuesday, Nov. 2, 1999

Smokey Briggs


By Smokey Briggs

Constitutional humor

difficult to achieve

A friend of mine dropped by a couple of weeks back. He's a good friend and hence muddles through my column each week.

He said I was beginning to sound like a broken record on some constitutional issues like gun control, prayer in public schools and such.

My first response was a good Bronx cheer since I always accept criticism with good grace.

But then I thought, maybe he had a point.

So, I thought I would take the opportunity to talk about the Constitution this week.

Notice I say "the Constitution" and not "some constitutional issue." So this is a fresh cut on this record, right?

I do write about constitutional issues on a regular basis.

I do it because I think it is the lynch pin to our system of government _ the best system I've ever come across in twenty-plus years of studying such things.

It is important. More important than most any other issue that faces us in this society.


Because it is the document that guarantees the freedoms we have. Without it, we are one more floundering society ruled by a simple majority at best, or by an elite minority/dictator at worst.

I don't want to end up there. I don't want to hand my children such a country.

So when I see the Constitution being twisted and tortured into saying something that it simply does not say, I write about it.

Every time we twist such a ruling from the Constitution, even if we like the result, we have lost something _ we have weakened this document that is the foundation of our freedom.

The Constitution is a simple game. As my old constitutional law professor liked to say, "It's a simple game and the rules are written on the top of the box." (He was referring to the rules for amending the document - a much better approach than simply squeezing a meaning out of the document that just isn't there.)

If we continue down this path of word twisting to suit our present desires, we will eventually render the Constitution a silly piece of paper that will say whatever the ruling majority says it says.

And then we all lose.

Unfortunately for me, constitutional topics are rarely simple little things you can hash out in 200 words _ if you don't believe me just watch television news try to deal with one. A herd of goats dipped in ink and rolling on a big piece of paper could come up with more intelligent communication.

And it would take a far better writer than me to wring humor out of most constitutional issues.

But I'll try to do better.

So. Did you hear the one where this farmer, a salesman, and a constitutional law professor where in a bar? The farmer says….

EDITOR'S NOTE: Smokey Briggs is the editor and publisher of the Pecos Enterprise whose column appears on Tuesdays. He can be e-mailed at:

Your View

Mighty Eagles seek encouragement

First of all, as Senior Drum Major for the Pecos High School Mighty Eagle Band I would like to thank all of the people who supported us on Saturday at Ratliff Stadium. It really meant a lot to the band and at the time it seemed as though the whole town was supporting us. Unfortunately, I found out the truth and saw things the way they really were. After school on Monday, I was informed that the newspaper published a story along with a picture of the Mighty Eagle Bands' Area performance. As Drum Major, I was looking forward to reading the article and viewing the picture, but to my dismay there appeared on the front page of Monday's issue "Eagle band misses out on state finals", along with a picture of last years performance. I was really upset and disappointed that the newspaper staff chose to express their view in such a manner and did not take the opportunity to capture our outstanding performance. This really bothers me because when it comes to sports the articles are always supportive. Personally I feel that the town does not support our Fine Arts program (band) here at Pecos High School. The town of Pecos needs to realize that we are in this together and can only accomplish great things if we support one another.

Senior Drum Major

Note: In addition to receiving a Division I the Mighty Eagle Band was awarded Region Winner at Area Contest and now has the opportunity to claim a Sweepstakes Title.

Our View

Fiscal Responsibility

Once again the lines of battle have been drawn up. In Washington Republicans and Democrats are dug in and no one seems to be ready to budge on how much money to spend next year.

Political pundits are predicting that the Republican-led Congress is gambling big with its bid to pay the bills without touching the funds we pay for Social Security.

President Clinton has vowed to veto the proposed spending bill _ necessary programs won't be funded, he says.

The question is, "what is necessary?"

The other question is, "what can we afford?"

These are two questions that families ask themselves everyday and base their buying decisions on.

Fiscally responsible moms and dads don't raid the family savings to pay for things that aren't necessary. And they don't buy things that they simply cannot afford.

Neither should our own government.

What would be nice must be measured against what we can afford.

It would be nice if the government could supply everyone with first-rate healthcare, plenty of food, a nice house and a dependable car.

But since the dawn of time, no one has come up with a system that could accomplish such a plan.

Using the present budget surplus, or dipping into the Social Security fund (as has been done for the last 40 years) to pay for more and more spending is fiscally irresponsible. One day, the citizens of this country are going to need that money, and it will not be there. It will have been spent on nice ideas that we honestly couldn't afford. (Or on buying votes if you are a little on the cynical side).

Reeves County and The Town of Pecos City have faced the same problem for years except there was no Social Security fund to raid.

Instead, local government has had to tighten its belt and make do with the revenue that was available. Taxes can only be raised so high.

Eventually, services, in one form or another, have to be cut.

It is not a pleasant process and it doesn't create Utopia. But it does have to be done _ there just isn't another choice.

The Republican plan isn't perfect, but at least it is an attempt to force government to live within its means.

Something West Texans have been doing for years.

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