Friday, January 29, 2010

My Take on Lame Duck Senators Casting Votes

Lane Kirk is a lame duck. There has been an election for the Massachusetts US Senate seat, and Scott Brown won the election. There is a lot of outrage that Lane Kirk is continuing to cast votes. I understand that outrage. My take on this is different from others that I have read. I want to take into account ALL lame duck US Senators, and not just Lane Kirk. The heat that I can catch for this kind of accounting may be huge, because it does not necessarily reward one political party over the other one.

I do not favor imposing mandatory term limits on congressmen. We already have a market-driven set of term limits. They are called general elections. They occur every two years for the House and 1/3 of the Senate so the voters can remove any House member after two years in office and any Senate Member after six years in office. This is the check on power that the founders had the wisdom to put into the constitution, and I am good with that. The check is that any judgement made by a congressman's vote is that he has to face the voters in the next election, and defend his vote. Now the problem with this particular check comes into play when you have a congressman who is not going to run in the next election or whose seat just got won in the previous election by another person. What I have described is a lame duck who has no concern for accounting for his vote to the voters in his state.

My take is that the US Senate can make their own rules with a 3/4 majority vote required. I would like to see them come up with a Senate Rule that a lame duck member will recuse himself, and not vote on key major votes. If Supreme Court Justices are allowed to recuse themselves, then why shouldn't a lame duck US Senator?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Purity Test - Don't Play the Game

For those who are wondering, the pic is from the movie War Games (1983).

There has been some talk about a purity test for candidates. Some people are in favor, and some are opposed. Put me in the camp that says Do not play this game! I recently read an article at Politico,
Dem plan: Split GOP, tea party
From the article:

Menendez and his staff will distribute a memo Tuesday advising Democratic campaign managers to frame their opponents early and to drive a wedge between moderate voters and tea-party-style conservatives.

The memo urges Democratic candidates to force their opponents to answer a series of questions on health care, taxes and some of the favorite causes of the far right:

Do you believe that Barack Obama is a U.S. citizen? Do you think the 10th Amendment bars Congress from issuing regulations like minimum health care coverage standards? Do you think programs like Social Security and Medicare represent socialism and should never have been created in the first place? Do you think President Obama is a socialist? Do you think America should return to a gold standard?

If a Republican candidate says no to any of the questions, the memo says Democrats should “make their primary opponent or conservative activists know it. This will cause them to take heat from their primary opponents and could likely provoke a flip-flop.

This is not anything new. Saul Alinsky included this in his Rules for Radicals Rule #7 Tactics point 4

4.Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.You can kill them with this, for they can no more obey their own rules than the Christian church can live up to Christianity.

The MSM will try to trap a GOP candidate or GOP officeholder in this same manner. I recently read a book written by William F. Buckley, The Reagan I Knew. There is a chapter titled Stockman and the Budget. An excerpt

Reagan was pleased to find in Washington a 34 year old congressman, David Stockman. He had done graduate work at Harvard, where for a period he was in the divinity school. Reagan duly named him Director of OMB and put him in charge of the administration's grand plan to cut tax rates and the budget and the deficit simultaneously.

Reagan's confidence in Stockman came to a soggy end when The Atlantic appeared on the stands in November 1981. In an extended interview Stockman put forward his views of the Reagan program.
It's kind of hard to sell 'trickle down.' So the supply-side formula was the only way to get a tax policy that was really 'trickle down.' None of us really understands what's going on with all these numbers.

In the months ahead, administration representatives had to labor hard to finesse the objections raised by Stockman. Stockman went to the president, apologized, offered his resignation, was 'taken to the woodshed' and then forgiven, and went back to work. But although Stockman was kept on as head of OMB until 1985, the skepticism had hardened.

Stockman enjoyed the arts of explication. His conservative instincts brought him to criticize mostly the sheer size of the government President Reagan had inherited. It took Stockman a very long time before he discovered that the Reagan administration, for instance, simply stopped thinking about Social Security as a malleable budget feature. If he had known that, he says, he would not have engaged in the struggle to begin with.

I think WFB sums up what happened fairly accurately, and I also think President Reagan would have been served better by someone who was not such a conservative radical ideologue.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Seven More 2010 US House Freshman

I earlier wrote a diary about new House Republicans replacing House Democrats in 2010.  My list projected a net increase of 51, and this would change the number of House Rs to 228 and House Ds to 207.  Since that time my confidence has grown, and I believe it is now possible for House Rs to number 235 and House Ds to number 200.  There is a growing sense of courage in the country that is stirring people to campaign and fight to win seats that had always seemed unlikely to them before.  Incumbents have got a large amount of money compared to challengers, but that money they have is not deterring people any more.  I use Stu Rothenberg as a reference for my 58 selections, but I am more optimistic than he is about the 58 D seats that are in play.

I included wins in five additional states, Missouri, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, and West Virginia.  I included an extra seat pickup in Colorado and Illinois.  I realize that some may have another individual to win in a GOP Primary than I picked, and it is not my intent to argue with you about that primary. I want, and I would hope, that you want a GOP candidate to win the General Election.  I also did not include any new Rs replacing incumbent Rs, and I certainly suspect this will occur as well.
Photos of the seven from top left to bottom right include: Scott Tipton CO-3  Vickie Hartzler  MO-4  Dick Green IL-10 Paul Schaffner ND  Mick Mulvaney SC-5 Blake Curd SD and Dan Swisher WV-1



Saturday, January 23, 2010

Take the Cap Off Entering the House

Most of the framers of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights (and the states that ratified them) expected that the following principles would always apply:

The size of the congressional districts should remain relatively small.  Instead, the average district size is approximately 700,000 and growing.

The number of federal Representatives should grow proportionately with the general population. Instead, Congress has fixed the total number of Representatives at 435 ever since 1913.

The Congressional districts should be equivalently sized across the nation pursuant to the one-person-one-vote principle. Instead, some House districts are currently nearly twice the size of others.

Melancton Smith, New York Ratifying Convention  20--21 June 1788 selling points
We may approach a great way towards perfection by increasing the representation and limiting the powers of Congress. The great interests and liberties of the people could only be secured by the State Governments. If the new government was only confined to great national objects, it would be less exceptionable; but it extended to every thing dear to human nature. That this was the case could be proved without any long chain of reasoning:--for that power which had both the purse and the sword, had the government of the whole country, and might extend its powers to any and to every object. By the true doctrine of representation, this principle was established--that the representative must be chosen by the free will of the majority of his constituents: It therefore followed that the representative should be chosen from small districts. Would they be possessed of the requisite information to make happy the great number of souls that were spread over this extensive country?--There was another objection to the clause: If great affairs of government were trusted to a few men, they would be more liable to corruption. Corruption was unfashionable amongst us, but  Americans were like other men; and tho' they had hitherto displayed great virtues, still they were men; and therefore such steps should be taken as to prevent the possibility of corruption. We were now in that stage of society, in which we could deliberate with freedom;--how long it might continue, God only knew! Twenty years hence, perhaps, these maxims might become unfashionable; we already hear in all parts of the country, gentlemen ridiculing that spirit of patriotism and love of liberty, which carried us through all our difficulties in times of danger.--When patriotism was already nearly hooted out of society, ought we not to take some precautions against the progress of corruption?
Complaint For Declaratory and Injunctive Relief On the grounds that the United States government's current practice of apportioning representatives according to 2 U.S.C. § 2a is unconstitutional, a lawsuit was filed in district court on September 17, 2009.

The five plaintiffs in the case each represent the five most under-represented states in the House of Representatives.  The plaintiffs are:

John Tyler Clemons
Jessica Wagner
Krystal Brunner
Lisa Schea
Frank Mylar

Mr. Clemons is a registered voter in the state of Mississippi; Ms. Wagner is a registered voter in the state of Montana; Ms. Brunner is a registered voter in the state of South Dakota; Ms. Schea is a registered voter in the state of Delaware; Mr. Mylar is a registered voter in the state of Utah.

Scott Scharpen has written about the root causes of ills in the US House , and here are some highlights from this article.

INCREASED competition – the principles of free markets tell us that when competition is present, we get increased quality at a lower cost. With a House of 1,761 members, the supply will increase by over 300% while the demand remains the same. The example of the New Hampshire state house (consisting of 400 members for a population of less than 1.5 million) shows that competition produces a much higher turnover rate (over 30%) each election cycle. In dramatic contrast, California’s embarrassing lack of competition (the state assembly has only 80 members for a population of over 36 million) has produced a 100% incumbent success rate for the past 4 election cycles, even though the state is being driven into bankruptcy. In effect, competition creates market-driven term limits when needed, rather than legislatively-forced term limits that are advocated by so many. With appropriate competition, long tenure will depend on strong performance rather than who holds the most power and money.

DECREASED cost of running for office – the average winning campaign for a U.S. House seat in 2008 was approximately $1.5 million. This enormous financial barrier to entry prevents ‘average’ citizens from entering national politics, and gives incumbents a great advantage. If the average district size were reduced by 75%, the cost to win a House seat would also be cut by 75%. Also, we would see special interest money playing a much smaller role in the outcome of elections.

Here is a thought experiment: consider how few people are required to get a major federal government program started.  In a country of about three-hundred million residents, a US President only needs 283 people to get what he wants.  Let’s take  Obama’s health care initiative and break down the numbers.  Any revenue generating program needs to originate in the House and get 218 votes - done  Next, the Senate has got to have 60 votes to pass something out of the Senate - done.  The House can accept with no changes what passed out of the Senate with 218 votes - not done yet.  The President signs the bill received from the Congress - not done yet.  Five Supreme Court Judges rule the new program is constitutional - not done yet.  So a president needs 218 + 60 + 5 = 283 for mission accomplished.

There is a significant correlative relationship between smaller district sizes and increased freedom. Moreover,  this is a causal relationship; that is, as the legislative districts become larger, the government becomes increasingly oligarchic and statist.

I support this effort, and wish that people would work to fix the statist problem our country faces with the elected officials in DC in this manner.  I do not think that term limits and campaign finance reform address the core problem that arose in 1913 with creation of the Fed and the 16th and 17th amendments as well as no longer increasing the total number of congressional districts.  I know the Congress we have has no interest in doing any more than having federal districts and territories get representatives instead of delegates.  I do not support that at all.

Below I have a couple of charts to illustrate  that the total number of congressional districts was increased every ten years from 1790 to 1910 (with a single exception). These increases were a direct result of the growth in total population as was intended by the framers of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

The second chart shows the different ways that state governments operate their state houses.   You can see states like California, New York , and New Jersey have larger district sizes.  States like New Hampshire, South Dakota, and North Dakota have smaller district sizes.  Guess which states have increased freedom.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

US History - What Is and Is Not Taught

One reason for studying history is to learn from it.  The problem is that the history lesson we are being taught has a statist bias to it.  While it is true that some industrialists took huge government dollars, erected shoddy enterprises, and ran them into the ground, there were also those who risked their own money, overcame strong foreign competition, and pushed American industries to become world leaders.  History books are written that lump the political predators and innovative builders as one.  The narrative that is written is:
Entrepreneurs cut costs and made many contributions to American economic growth, but they also marred political life by bribing politicians, forming pools, and misusing government funds, and engaging in risky stock speculation.  Therefore, we needed the federal government to come in and regulate them.
This historical narrative does not help one to learn the right lessons from history.  It gives people the foolish notion that increased involvement and increased regulations by the federal government is always the appropriate remedy to any economic problem.

One example of an appropriate federal government intrusion is the Supreme Court case of Gibbons v Ogden.
The New York legislature gave Robert Fulton the exclusive privilege of carrying all steamboat traffic in New York for thirty years. Gibbons, a New Jersey steamboat man, decided to challenge this arrangement and hired Cornelius Vanderbilt to run a steamboat from New Jersey to New York.  For sixty days in 1817, Vanderbilt defied capture as he raced passengers from Elizabeth, New Jersey to New York City.  In 1824 Chief Justice John Marshall ruled that only the federal government, not the states, could regulate interstate commerce.

The real value of removing the Fulton monopoly was that the costs of steamboating dropped.  Passenger fares, for example, from Albany to New York City immediately dropped from seven to three dollars after Gibbons v Ogden.  Fulton's company couldn't compete, and soon went bankrupt.  Vanderbilt adopted new technology, cut costs, and earned $40,000 profit each year during the late 1820's.

Cornelius Vanderbilt left Gibbons to start his own shipping business. He never got anymore Supreme Court decisions in his favor, but he continued to compete against others who were getting money from the US or British governments and best them in water travel and later railroad travel.

History books also do not teach, but in some cases make excuses for,  the government intrusions that were not appropriate and caused more harm than good.  For example, the history books describe that the transcontinental railroads building for companies like Union Pacific run by Jay Gould, and Northern Pacific, run by Henry Villard, were so costly and risky as to require lavish federal dollars.  For the boondoggles and corruption that accompanied all this federal money largesse, they blame not the federal government for making the federal aid available, but the greedy railroad tycoons for receiving it.  James J. Hill built the Great Northern transcontinental railroad without a cent of federal aid and without boondoggles and corruption, but the history books don't point out this stark difference.

Another example is the way the Interstate Commerce Commission and Sherman anti-trust and Hepburn Acts were used not to hurt a political entrepreneur like Gould, or Villard, but instead to punish efficient market entrepreneurs like Hill and Rockefeller.  The history books don't mention the unintended consequences of loss of exports to Japan by punishing Hill.  Hill had grown US exports to Japan from $7.7 million to $51.7, and then he mostly abandoned the Asian trade after the Hepburn Act became law in 1906.  The history books don't mention the international competition between John D. Rockefeller and the Russians for winning the largest share of the global oil market.  This competition had been going on since 1885 when the Sherman Act ruling in 1911 forced the break-up of his company.

Another example is the plan concocted during the Wilson Presidency to have the federal government build and operate armor-plate factory with federal funds.  Charles M Schwab, president of Bethlehem Steel,  told them that the federal government would not be able to make armor plate cheaper than he could.  A government factory would waste the taxpayers' money.

Construction began in 1917 on the new factory.  The war delayed the building, but it was continued later.  There was an overrun of several million  dollars in post-war construction costs.  By 1921, the plant was making armor at prices much higher than that of Bethlehem Steel, and the plant was shut down within a year to never run again.

I was able to obtain the history that is not taught from a book, The Myth of the Robber Barons, written by Burton Folsom, Jr.  Some of you have listened to Glenn Beck talking about a lot of problems going back to the Wilson Presidency, but I think the human condition toward statism and elitism goes back much farther.

Adam Smith cautioned about this in his book, Wealth of Nations.  It is just as applicable today.
The statesman who should attempt to direct private people in what manner they ought to employ their capitals, would not only load himself with a most unnecessary attention, but assume an authority which could safely be trusted, not only to no single person, but to no council or senate whatever, and which would nowhere be so dangerous as in the hands of a man who had folly and presumption enough to fancy himself fit to exercise it.

19th Century American Industrialists fall into two categories:
Market Entrepreneurs
Cornelius Vanderbilt                      James J. Hill                

                                           John D. Rockefeller
Charles M. Schwab

Political Entrepreneurs:
Robert Fulton                                             Jay Gould                                                

 Henry Villard                             Elbert H Gary

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Recarving Rushmore - a book review

In Ivan Eland’s world, the sky is blue, the grass is green, and the US President images carved into Mount Rushmore are van Buren, Tyler, Hayes, and Cleveland.

The author wrote this book in 2009, and based his ranking of each President by the degree to which each one upheld the founders’ original concept of a restrained foreign policy and a limited federal government with an appropriately constrained executive. This sounds good, except the author has a Ron Paul view of a restrained foreign policy. Every war could have been avoided, and every attack on the US is because we did something to deserve it.

I completely reject this view, and believe that the principle of peace through strength is elementary and essential. Consider an elementary child who gets his lunch money taken from him by a bully. That child will not have any peace by avoiding the bully, nor does this child deserve to be attacked. The bully will have that child’s lunch money until the day comes that the child is stronger than that bully. Through strength peace will finally come.

I do not recommend this book, especially if you suffer from hypertension and believe in peace through strength. However, I do not regret reading an analysis of Presidents that uses different criteria than what historians have traditionally used. I also think some of these views resonate with some who are participating in Tea Party events. There are war protesters who also support a limited federal government and less spending and takeover by the federal government of car companies, banks, health insurance companies, etc. We can use their votes for electing folks who will shrink the federal government, and we can let them pound sand when it comes to providing a common defense of the US.

The author writes about some of the biases with how historians rank Presidents. He mentions the “effectiveness bias” where the political skill to get his policies implemented is considered. The problem the author has is that this factor does not take into account if the policies yield positive or negative consequences. The author has a similar problem with the “charisma bias” that how much charisma a president possessed should be a rating factor. The author rejects the idea that you can’t be a great President unless you are an activist presiding during a major national crisis.

The author grades each President assigning a number from 0 to 20 for how well he did in peace, prosperity, and liberty. In the introduction he writes that after he finished the rankings were surprising even to him. I think before he even started that any President who believed in peace through strength was going receive a bad grade. I actually agree for the most part with the grades he gave on the prosperity component. There were two Presidents that received a 0 on this component, FDR and LBJ. That seems about right to me.

I created a table of the 16 US Presidents who were reelected, because I do have this bias that getting reelected is a key to how good of a job a President is doing. Compare different rankings for 16 of 40 Presidents from the conservative Federalist/Wall St Journal, the more liberal Siena Research Institute, and the author. The first number in each column is the rank and the second number in the Ivan Eland column is the Prosperity score.

Wall St Journal Rankings

Siena Rankings

Ivan Eland

George Washington (1)

FDR (1)

Grover Cleveland (2) (18)

Abraham Lincoln (2)

Abraham Lincoln (2)

Dwight Eisenhower (9) (17)

FDR (3)

George Washington (4)

U.S. Grant (19) (16)

Thomas Jefferson (4)

Thomas Jefferson (5)

Bill Clinton (11) (15)

Ronald Reagan(6)

Woodrow Wilson (6)

George Washington (7) (12)

Dwight Eisenhower (8)

James Monroe (8)

James Monroe (25) (10)

Andrew Jackson (10)

James Madison (9)

Andrew Jackson (27) (10)

Woodrow Wilson (11)

Dwight Eisenhower (10)

James Madison (28) (8)

Grover Cleveland (12)

Andrew Jackson (13)

Thomas Jefferson (26) (7)

William McKinley (14)

Ronald Reagan (16)

Ronald Reagan (34) (5)

James Monroe (16)

Bill Clinton (18)

Richard Nixon (30) (4)

James Madison (17)

William McKinley (19)

George W Bush (36) (3)

George W Bush (19)

Grover Cleveland (20)

Abraham Lincoln (29) (2)

Bill Clinton (22)

George W Bush (23)

William McKinley (38) (1)

U.S. Grant (29)

Richard Nixon (26)

Woodrow Wilson (40) (1)

Richard Nixon (32)

U.S. Grant (35)

FDR (31) (0)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Same Play - Different Cast

There are some similarities between the 1928 and 2008 election. In both cases there was no incumbent President or VP running from either party, and one party won control of both chambers of Congress and the WH. Herbert Hoover won 40 out of 48 states and 444 to 87 in the electoral college. In the House the Rs had 270 seats and the Ds had 164. In the Senate the Rs had 56 seats and the Ds had 39.

March 4, 1929: Herbert C. Hoover became President of the United States. Herbert Hoover was from the Teddy Roosevelt wing of the Republican Party, and the leader of the “Efficiency Movement.” The Efficiency Movement was a major dimension of the Progressive Era in the United States. It flourished 1890-1932. Adherents argued that all aspects of the economy, society and government were riddled with waste and inefficiency. Everything would be better if experts identified the problems and fixed them. Does any of this sound remotely familiar to you?

1929 laws with dire consequences

1. The Smoot–Hawley Tariff Act was an act that raised U.S. tariffs on over 20,000 imported goods to record levels. The ensuing retaliatory tariffs by U.S. trading partners reduced American exports and imports by more than half and according to some views may have contributed to the severity of the Great Depression.

The House passed a version of the act in May 1929, increasing tariffs on agricultural and industrial goods alike. As it passed the House of Representatives in May 1929, boycotts broke out and foreign governments moved to increase rates against American products, even though rates could be increased or decreased by the Senate or by the conference committee. By September 1929, Hoover's administration had received protest notes from 23 trading partners, but threats of retaliatory actions were ignored. October 29, 1929: Wall Street Crash of 1929: Three multi-digit percentage drops wipe out more than $30 billion from the New York Stock Exchange (10 times greater than the annual budget of the federal government).

2. Under the administration of Herbert Hoover, the Agriculture Marketing Act of 1929 established the Federal Farm Board with a revolving fund of half a billion dollars. The original act was sponsored by Hoover in an attempt to stop the downward spiral of crop prices by seeking to buy, sell and store agricultural surpluses or by generously lending money to farm organizations. The Act was not beneficial; as the inflation ran deeper than the value of the money, it started sinking and the losses of the farmers were getting bigger and bigger.

The Act was the precursor to the Agricultural Adjustment Act.

3. The Reapportionment Act of 1929 (ch. 28, 46 Stat. 21, 2 U.S.C. § 2a, enacted June 18, 1929) was a combined census and reapportionment bill passed by the United States Congress that established a permanent method for apportioning a constant 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives according to each census. The bill neither repealed nor restated the requirements of the previous apportionment acts that districts be contiguous, compact, and equally populated. Thus the size and population requirements, last stated in the Apportionment Act of 1911, expired immediately with the enactment of the subsequent Apportionment Act.

A reapportionment in 1921 in the traditional fashion would have increased the size of the House to 483 seats, but many members would have lost their seats due to the population shifts. The Reapportionment act of 1929 did away with any mention of districts at all. This provided a solution to the problem of threatened incumbents by allowing the political parties in control of the state legislatures to draw districting lines at will and to elect some or all representatives at large.

The Smoot-Hawley tariff ended in the 1940’s with the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) coming in the 1950’s.

The Agriculture Marketing Act became the Agricultural Adjustment Act under FDR. The farmers were paid subsidies by the federal government for letting a portion of their fields lay fallow. The money for these subsidies was generated through an exclusive tax on companies who processed farm products. The Supreme Court declared the Act unconstitutional in 1936 for levying this tax on the processors only to have it paid back to the farmers. Regulation of agriculture was deemed a state power. Farm subsidies are still being paid out.

The Reapportionment Act of 1929 is an incumbent protection act in much the same way as the McCain-Feingold Act of 2002. The difference is that this Act has never been challenged in court. You can learn a lot of history at the website

Established in 2004, is a non-partisan and non-profit organization which conducts research on, and educates the public about, the degradation of representative democracy in the United States resulting from Congress' longstanding practice of constricting the number of Representatives relative to the total population.

Contrary to popular belief, the Bill of Rights document drafted in 1789 contains twelve articles of amendment. Article the second was not ratified until 200 years later as the 27th Amendment which finally limited Congress’ ability to increase its own compensation. However, Article the first the very first amendment proposed in the Bill of Rights was never ratified. Article the first would have required there be at least one Representative for every 50,000 people at larger population levels. The Senate’s version required one Representative for every 60,000.

Our Constitution does not prescribe such a minimum (other than one Representative per state); referring to this omission, James Madison stated that he had "always thought this part of the constitution defective." He also believed that an amendment establishing a minimum number of Representatives -- in proportion to the total population -- was necessary "to secure the great objects of representation."

In the absence of such an amendment there is nothing to prevent Congress from permanently freezing the number of Representatives or even making the House much smaller than it is now. "It is clear from the historical record that a majority of the framers of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights wished to prevent the establishment of an oligarchy in our House of Representatives.

I support this amendment. Of all the things I have written diaries about recently this most definitely would be the most difficult thing to get done. There is a long list of powerful institutional forces that will oppose this amendment: multinational corporations, most industry trade groups, labor unions, the Republican Party, the Democrat Party, the House of Representatives, the Senate, the federal executive branch and last, but not least, most foreign governments. These disparate forces, which normally do not collaborate with one another, will be united in defending the oligarchy in the federal House of Representatives.

In one respect I hope and pray that history does not repeat itself in 2012 like 1932. I do not want a new Republican President to continue any policy of the current administration the way that FDR continued Hoover’s progressive policies. I would like to see history repeat itself in 2010 like the 1930 midterms. In the House the majority party became the minority losing 53 seats. In the Senate the minority picked up 9 seats to tie with 48 the majority who still had the President of the Senate as the one vote majority.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Repeal the 17th Amendment?

1. What is the solution? the government or the market? There is no third solution.

2. How can we use market democracy and other means to help tame political democracy as our Founding Fathers did in 1776, or will we willy-nilly let it slowly but surely snuff our civilization, our future, our very well-being?

3. How can we tie the free-market idea to a moral code based on virtue, honor, dignity, and wisdom?

No question that capitalism, the politically-wise idea of market democracy, is America’s true democracy. Its opposite: the bipartisan Welfare-Warfare State via coercive winner-take-all "democracy," is a case of planned chaos, of a nation chasing its tail for an end-of-rainbow pot-of-gold.

Progressivism was not the domain of just one political party, as both Republicans and Democrats vied with each other to see who could more thoroughly expand the state. Republicans, led by Theodore Roosevelt and Sen. Robert LaFollette of Wisconsin, pushed for high tariffs, government ownership of natural resources, antitrust legislation, and imperialistic adventures abroad.

Democrats, on the other hand, led by William Jennings Bryan and Woodrow Wilson, pushed the income tax, inflation through debasement of the money supply, and the internal protectionist device known as Jim Crow laws, which attempted to shield white workers from competition from blacks. Both parties favored expansion of voting rights to women. What is clear is that neither party had any intention of honoring the U.S. Constitution.

In fact, the Progressive Era would not have had its social and legal effect had it not been for its reworking of the Constitution through the amendment process. The 17th amendment reworked the political landscape and greatly expanded the scope of the central government, one of the main goals of progressives.

In the original design by the Framers of the U.S. Constitution, there was an effective check on Congress through the state legislatures' power to appoint (and remove) United States Senators.

As such, the core of the problem with state's rights issues lies in the passage of the 17th Amendment in 1913, which abrogated the state legislatures' right to appoint United States Senators in favor of popular election of those officials. This amendment created a fundamental structural problem which, irrespective of the political party in office, or the laws in effect at any one time, will result, over time, in expanding federal control in every area.

The 17th Amendment caused a failure in the federalist structure, federal deficit spending, inappropriate federal mandates, and federal control over a number of state institutions.

The amendment has also caused a fundamental breakdown in campaign finance issues with respect to United States Senators. As to United States Senators, campaign finance reform, a hot topic in Congress now, can be best achieved by repealing the 17th Amendment to the United States Constitution. It should be readily apparent that United States Senators, once appointed by the state legislature, would have no need for campaign financing whatsoever.

The 17th Amendment should be repealed. This would reinstate the states' linkage to the federal political process and would, thereby, have the effect of elevating the present status of the state legislatures from that of lobbyists, to that of a partner in the federal political process.

The state legislatures would then have the ability to decentralize power when appropriate.

It would give state legislatures direct influence over the selection of federal judges and the jurisdiction of the federal judiciary and much greater ability to modify the power of the federal judiciary. This structure would allow the flow of power between the states and the federal government to ebb and flow as the needs of our federal republic change.

The existing relationship, combined with the effect of the Supremacy Clause, is guaranteed to concentrate power into the hands of the federal government with little or no hope of return. The resulting issue surrounding the fracas between the states and federal government is whether the states or the federal government should be exercising a particular power. There are no amendments in the US Constitution that enumerates power to the federal government to take care of poor, sick, and elderly.

The 17th Amendment took power of appointment of U.S. senators from the state legislatures and and placed it in the hands of voters. This further helped make the states subservient to the national agenda of progressives.

Friday, January 01, 2010

A Huge Problem Requires a Bold Solution pt. 2

ENTITLEMENT PROGRAM - A federal program that guarantees a certain level of benefits to persons or other entities who meet requirements set by law, such as Social Security, farm price supports or unemployment benefits. It thus leaves no discretion with Congress on how much money to appropriate, and some entitlements carry permanent appropriations.

Since 1970, the historical ratio between defense spending and entitlement spending on Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security has flipped. In 1970, total defense spending was 8.1 percent of our economy or Gross Domestic Product (GDP) — more than twice the 3.8 percent of GDP spent on the big three entitlement programs.

Today, the core defense program has fallen to 3.9 percent of GDP, while entitlement spending has more than doubled to 9.6 per cent of GDP. By 2030, the big three entitlements will absorb roughly 81 percent of all federal revenue if taxes are rightly held at historical levels. This crowds out defense and homeland security spending and threatens the historically low-tax, high-growth U.S. economy.

I do not think the entitlement mindset can be changed in the US citizenry. It is a pipe-dream to imagine privatizing social security and medicare. A more local government can take on these responsibilities, and be acceptable to the citizenry. It has to be a government with the taxing and mandating authority. A private business can only set fees and rules for their business. It does not have any authority to tax an individual.

Break up the responsibilities for SSI, MediCare, Medicaid, SCHIP, and Food Stamps into ten independent entities plus the US HHS that will be limited to only responsibility for DC and federal territories. The existing revenue is divided per population size of each entity. This is not privatizing current federal programs. It is putting the control of these programs out of the hands of the US Congress and into the hands of a more local government. This would get the US Congress to adhere to the intent of the Tenth Amendment. I suggest ten instead of fifty to allow the less populous states to band together and get an adequate revenue stream for this kind of undertaking. This also allows additional discretion for each of these ten entities to decide what is the best for their region independently of each other. If the revenues are not in the US Treasury General Fund, then the US Congress can’t get their greedy paws on it.

I devised a list of new HHS departments and the percent of the US Treasury dollars currently marked for these federal entitlement programs. Each of these ten departments could independently determine eligibility and tax rates for the citizens in their region.

Earlier I wrote about the need to scrap the current labyrinth of US tax code to protect the US economy. That would be an easier task than completely scrapping entitlements. This is why I suggest a solution of putting the command and control of entitlements in the hands of a more local government instead of the federal government. Let me know your thoughts and opinions, and offer your own solution if you hate mine.

Southern Pacific HHS
HI = 10.5%

Northwest HHS
SD = 8.5 %

Southwest HHS
TX = 10.5%

Great Plains HHS
AR = 9.5%

Great Lakes HHS
MI = 10.5%

Deep South HHS
FL = 11.5%

Mid-South HHS
VA = 9.5%

Mid-Atlantic HHS
MD = 9.5%

New York - New Jersey HHS
NJ = 7.5%

New England HHS
ME = 7.5%

US Federal HHS
District of Columbia
Puerto Rico
Northern Mariana Islands
US Virgin Islands
American Samoa
US Minor Outlying Islands = 5%