A constitution does two things: it establishes the structure of a government, and it establishes some of the overarching rules the government is to operate by. Anyone interested in good government should also be interested in discovering good rules by which the government is to operate.

I am obviously interested in good government so, as a game, I often ask this question of myself and others:
“If a new country were being founded and you had some say in shaping it’s constitution, what are some of the rules you would include?”

I find it easiest to start with the American constitution since I am reasonably happy with it and think of rules which would improve it. Here are a few of my answers:

  • All action the government takes involving specific quantities of money must account for inflation.
  • The government must keep a balanced budget except when congress declares war or other temporary emergency.
  • The government is prohibited from keeping secrets about policy, but not prohibited from keeping technical secrets vital to security from foreign enemies.
  • All legislation must explain explicitly how the rules in the governing constitution permit the legislation. In a constitutional challenge, the courts must either accept the reasoning or strike down the legislation.

What are some of your answers?