Beyond the Cusp

March 7, 2015

The United States Lost Republic to Democracy

 

While a complete democracy is neither desirable nor practical, yet the United States has irrevocably moved steadily closer and closer to outright democracy since the first days of her founding under the present Constitution. The Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments which were debated and selected from an original thirteen and sliced down to a nice round number, ten, gave the first step in that direction by delineating the rights which were included in those guaranteed the people as they were gifts from the creator mentioned so specifically in the Declaration of Independence which many of the Founding Fathers believed was a part of the founding documents which defined the society and its governance just as much as the Constitution. As time progressed the Federal Government gathered unto itself more and more powers stealing them either from the States respectively, or from the people. This was from the government which supposedly was restricted by Amendment X which read, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” The Founding Fathers were divided into two groups, the Federalists and, of course, the anti-Federalists with one group desiring to balance the governance in favor of the most local governance as possible while the others believed that centralized powers were required in order for the governance to rule the entire nation. The first attempt to fashion a weak central governance over the newly liberated English colonies, the Federated States of America, was a dismal failure as without any powers to raise money and left at the mercies of the charity of the individual States the government very soon ran aground and became high, dry and out of funds. So, the United States of America’s Constitution was America 2.0 and made with powers given the central government unconscionable the first time around. Had the Federal Government continued to be restrained and restricted to its original powers then the United States would probably be in better shape and the European powers would still have militaries of sufficient size and capabilities that they would not be dependent upon the United States to be the sole determining force of NATO and the European Union would have died long before the Euro became the bane of Greece and the lucrative coinage for Germany. But the changes that put the final knife into the Constitution slashing it and tearing it and signaling the end of that Amendment X and the State’s rights it presumably protected came in along with the end of many individual rights for the individual American just before World War I began on July 28, 1914.

 

Earlier in that fateful year Amendment XVI established the income tax with the promise from the politicians that it would only tax the most wealthy one percent of the population and would never be permitted to become a burden on the average person and on that promise likely being the clinching argument allowed it to be ratified into law on February 3, 1913. As any American will attest, the income tax became far more than burdensome on the average person but also grew to such a point and the IRS which it founded gathered such information that the government through provisions and added regulations eventually could tell the average person their expenditures throughout the year and was rumored jokingly that the IRS could look up the color of the guest towels hanging in your bathroom. Now the Federal Government can tell you a whole lot more than the colors of items you have purchased, the extent and particulars of your every investment and virtually anything anyone might care to know about your life, your purchasing habits, your diet where you go on weekends for fun, where you vacationed the last ten years, the make and mileage on your vehicles and just about any other detail imaginable, and people worry about their privacy. Privacy in this world died a long time ago somewhere right before data mining and agreements between governments arranging for each to spy on the other’s citizens and then provide the information upon anybody that the other requested which eventually led to the decisions to forget the middle-man and simply for each nation to spy on their own citizens making everything so much easier and less complicated.

 

A short time later the Amendment XVII was ratified on April 8, 1913 establishing for the direct election of each State’s Senators instead of allowing each State to decide the methods their Senators were chosen. Previous to this Amendment to the Constitution most States chose their Senators in a various number of procedures with the two most used being the Governor choosing the Senator as each came up for election and possibly having to present them to the State’s legislature or higher branch of the legislative branches to have them approve the selection with some States requiring a larger vote for approval than a simple majority. The other method was for the Senator to be selected by the legislative branch of the State government and in most cases have them approved by the Governor under the same rules as legislation was passed or vetoed by the Governor. This Amendment took away the individual State’s ability to have their voices heard in the Federal Government making the Senate simply a less populous House of Representatives having both wings of the bicameral legislative governance chosen directly by the people. The reasoning presented was that the people were more knowledgeable as a group or mass intelligence than any combination of State Governors or legislatures in choosing the Senators. There was also the claim that State level politicians were too corrupt which was laughable as the majority of Federal legislative politicians were simply the most competent of the people in State governance. This was amidst the populace movement where the average citizen was presumed to have better sense when the whole was allowed to speak as through elections. What was completely ignored was that the Founding Fathers had planned for the Senate to be the legislative branch representing the States’ governance such that the Senate would guard over State’s rights and protect the powers of the State and limit the influence the Federal Government could have over them. This change brought on the slaughtering of the States individually and collectively such that they have long ago seen their powers slowly but inexorably misappropriated, stolen even, by the Federal Government which now faced no opposition from the individual States. This also allowed the Federal Government to control the individual States by demanding that the State acquiesce to the demands and whims of the Federal Government in order to receive funding such as requiring that the States meet caloric and vitamin requirements and curtail the choices offered the children otherwise not receive a large amount of Federal school funding which is earmarked for the lunch and other food programs. Further, the Federal Government has come up with this wonderful manner in which to place onerous demands on the States through unfunded mandates. These are programs that each and every State is required to carry out according to Federal regulations or even actual laws but for which the Federal Government no longer funds the program dumping the entire mess upon the States to finance. The numbers of these programs increases every year and this is partially due to the Federal government attempting to release itself from onerous financial obligations which were laid out in legislation for some program every State is required to carry out and funds were set aside for the first so many number of years and were presumed to be funded further by the Federal Government but somehow down the road the Federal funding ceased but the mandate continued and the States found themselves on the hook to finance program after program as the Federal Government cut off the flow but did not cut out the requirements.

 

Both of these Amendments to the United States Constitution were ratified but under suspicions of fraud. One was found to have received the final ratification a few weeks or a couple of months beyond the set time allotted for ratification to be permitted, Congress claimed that somehow this had been covered by some extension despite no such allowance stipulated as possible by the Constitution and the other was not ratified by sufficient States falling a couple short. Well, World War I struck on July 28, 1914 and the RMS Lusitania on May 7, 1915 was sunk by a German U-boat and American lives were lost as a result. There has been debate ever since the sinking as to whether the RMS Lusitania carried weapons or explosives for use in the war which was vehemently denied by Britain and the United States as well as the other allied powers and the debate has persisted and apparently will continue forward. Meanwhile, President Wilson argued against joining the war while simultaneously demanding that the U-boat attacks not target indiscriminately and especially avoid any further attacks upon civilian craft like the RMS Lusitania. Wilson was already stoking the public to allow an American effort join the efforts while also campaigning on a platform that he kept the United States out of the war. United States President Woodrow Wilson finally demanded a Declaration of War and the Congress responded giving him his desired declaration of war on April 6, 1917. As the initial Declaration of War identified only Germany as the nation the United States had declared war upon, this proved to be untenable; so after President Wilson again requested a Declaration of War and Congress did comply as they declared war on Austria-Hungary on December 17, 1917. The United States never actually declared war against all of the forces fighting against the allies who also consisted of the Central Powers, Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire. World War I came to an end on November 11, 1918 and by this date the horrific pandemic known as the Spanish Flu had broken out and some of the troops brought the virus home with them which caused the pandemic to break out and spread across the United States. By this time the two Constitutional Amendments numbers sixteen and seventeen were faint memories pretty much lost in the fog of the decade which followed them with the war and the flu who had time to be concerned about the potential of inconvenience of two little Amendments. Unfortunately, as was learned many years later these two little Amendments proved to be anything but minor little legislative additions to the Constitution but rather major changes in the breadth of Government powers and the depth of their effect to be felt years later. These two Amendments may have been the most influential pair of legislative action ever passed and ratified since the Bill of Rights was passed. These Amendments laid the framework by which power became centralized in the Federal Government and provided the funding through direct taxation of the people and stripping the States of choosing their own representatives within the central government thus liberating the Federal Government from any limitations by the States nor could they protest directly the absorption of the powers which had previously been within the control of the individual States and subjugating the States beneath the Federal Government’s heel without recourse.

 

The change in how Senators were to be elected directly by the people simply made the Senators nothing more than super representatives with two permitted per state. Now the United States had entered the point of no return sliding almost completely into democracy and definitively no longer a republic. Benjamin Franklin was queried as he left Independence Hall on the final day of deliberation, “Doctor, what have we got—a Republic or a Monarchy?” and Benjamin Franklin answered bluntly and directly to the heart of the query stating, “A Republic, if you can keep it.” Never in the history of founding of nations has the situation been so accurately assessed nor has the problem been predicted as how the Governance will be altered eventually unraveling the delicate balance between the individual States and the Federal Government. It is said that one can assess any Governance by a simple measure; just determine which side is the more fearful of the other and should the Government be more fearful of the people than are they of the Government, then you have freedom but if the people are fearful of their government than the government is of them, then you have tyranny. With all the branches which are appointed to make the general rules and stipulations and requirements from the people now directly elected with the exception of the President, the United States is teetering on the edge and about to fall beyond the cusp and into the electing of the President directly ending any vestige of a republic. The direct election of Presidents has been proposed and one of the most dangerous legislative suggestions which recently was rejected for yet another time by the Oklahoma Legislature which would have demanded that the Electoral representatives for the State vote for the winner of the popular vote by the entire nation while ignoring the will and votes of the citizens in their own state. Should that legislative effort win in sufficient states which would provide an electoral victory then all any candidate would need do is campaign in the cities and areas with the greatest concentration of people to assure himself victory in the popular vote and completely ignore the less populated areas such as Alaska, Hawaii, Wyoming, Maine and all of the rural areas in every state. This idea is simply the latest manner to circumvent the Constitution and make the Electoral College an abstract and ancient methodology to be forgotten except by those few who major in ancient manners for electing leaders in city-states and nations; a major just slightly more useful than Indo-Chinese Love Sonnets of the Ming Dynasty.

 

So, as we can see the United States has slowly but inescapably moved towards a total democracy. There have been calls in the last couple of decades as computers have made this possible for the United States government, as a final act, provide everybody over the age of eighteen a voting tablet which is dedicated to one function and only one function, listing the legislative issues and bills currently up for voting and tallying every citizen’s vote. Each citizen of voting age would be permitted to cast their vote on anything plus they could present legislation they desired to see placed before the people and seek a qualifying number within a reasonable time to continue to be eligible to remain on the list of proposed legislation. This number would slowly rise over at most two months and at that predetermined time, if the proposed legislation has attained the highest level of approvals it would qualify as a piece of general interest and the suggestion would be listed as a Bill and then have two weeks for everyone to vote. Should a Bill be passed it wound be passed on to the President much as things work today. Do not expect such to occur soon as it would require career politicians to vote such into law and thus make their chosen profession obsolete.

 

Still, the United States today is much closer to being a democracy than it is to the republic envisioned by the Founding Fathers and once those populists on the extreme left or the Federalists on the extreme right get their way, then even the President will be selected by straight majority voting. All it would probably take is for a popular candidate which one side felt was undeniably the best choice to win the popular vote but lose the election. Then another ridiculous exhibition of populist insanity would boil over and press through some version of directly electing the President and the United States will have completely been transformed into a democracy. Nothing happens in a bubble and everything has its originating source. The movement to a democracy rather than a republic is that with a democracy it is possible and made more likely for government to become a case for mob rule in which the mob would be the more populous states which is those with the most cities, the most megalopolises. When the cities are given the rule, then what happens to the needs of rural America? We are seeing the effect of cities ruling as the most dominant force in government in California where the water allotments were made over the years to favor the cities over the farmers. Now there are stretches of farmlands which are just acre upon acre of brown dusty soil with dead crops which simply were not provided with the necessary irrigation water at the most critical growing part of the season and these crops and lands are now almost worthless. The family farms will cease to exist due to not being able to pay for their last seeds which never had a chance to grow and will be forced fiscally to sell their lands to the mega-farm industry. This all because the people in the city pressed their allotment of water over that of the less populous farmers were able to and the farmers simply lost their last crop and now are finished. This was a sad example of how straight democracies can destroy an entire segment of the population simply by pressing the mob’s desire for green lawns, full swimming pools, green parks and water amusement parks and a myriad of other needs for water in the big city. The farmers had a similar need but lacked the muscle to lobby the government either at the State or Federal levels and thus lost their crops and many will lose their farms. Once the industrial farm corporations gain ownership of enough of the farmlands, then they will have the lobbyists and they will have the clout to get the irrigations water turned back on and limit the lawn watering city dweller to only be permitted to water their precious lawns on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. They may scream bloody murder but at least the farms will return to producing food and not just dusty soil. This entire water battle has and will play out across the United States over time and perhaps teach some of us the values of indirect governance over straight mob rule democracy.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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September 10, 2012

Thoughts on the Upcoming American Choice

President Barrack Obama stated during his acceptance speech that, “It will be a choice between two different paths for America. A choice between two fundamentally different visions for the future.” He could not have said it any more plainly and could not have nailed the truth about this election any more honestly. Actually, the one thing that must be said about President Obama is that he often says exactly what he is planning to do in broad and sweeping terms fashioned to make them appear so tempting and attractive mainly due to the fact that he allows space for each person to fill in the gaps and adjust his thoughts so they mesh perfectly with your thoughts. That is what was so appealing of his first campaign slogan of “Hope and Change.” Barack H. Obama never went into any details of exactly what it was he desired to change or where his hopes would take the Americans and their country, the United States. Some claim that now, after almost four years, we have a much clearer definitions for “Hope and Change” than during the 2008 campaign. This has made the President more attractive to one group and less so to another. The two factions of the American populace have been equated with one side being mostly made up of unions and those who favor a socialist view relying heavily on government to address any social problems and the other has been related to the Tea Party and made up of strict interpretation of the Constitution, smaller government and relying on individuals to address any social problems.  The election will define which group is the larger of the two.

The group more likely to support President Obama being reelected to a second term is the ones who believe that reliance on government is the best way to solve the needs of the society and the people. Like President Obama, these people believe that everybody having a fair and equal chance to make it in today’s world must be guaranteed by government intervention such that in the end there is an equaling force making the society equitable. They have a belief that for the most part the economy is like a big pie and if one person takes a double helping of pie then two other people will only get half a slice and that government needs to assure that everybody gets a fair and more even piece of the economic pie. They believe that greed will drive businesses to do whatever it takes to make more profit with absolutely no regard for who gets hurt, crushed even, or what affect they place upon the environment. That is why they are in favor of more and more regulations in order to guide and steer those who would otherwise wreck the planet in the name of profit take the correct attitude and minimize any adverse effects on the planet. There is a fear that if not for the government watching over businesses carefully that he leaders in industry would act with little regard for the health of the workers and that it takes government to assure that even the lowest person in the workplace receives sufficient wages to meet the basic needs of life. These people look to Europe and envy their healthcare systems and support Obama Care and would like to take it one step further and have the government take complete control over the healthcare industry. They will claim that only through government takeover can we assure that every single individual receives top notch healthcare and nobody goes without. They will sight the huge numbers of citizens who do not have health insurance because they have recently changed jobs and will likely receive coverage if they choose within a year or them who cannot afford to purchase health insurance. This group believes that without government society would cease to operate with any degree of fairness or equality and the people would end up divided into two groups, those few who have almost all the wealth and comfort in life or the majority who would be destitute and near starvation with no healthcare or other necessities of life. For the reason of making life fair and all people equal, they call upon government to smooth out life and remove any roadblocks and other difficulties which people would likely fail at if left to face them unaided.

The Tea Party oriented group, which includes Constitutionalists, Capitalists, Religious Conservatives, and others who likely had not supported President Obama in 2008 and had read things they disapproved of into the campaign of “Hope and Change.” These are the people who believe that government should do only that which are required to allow people to pursue their own paths and be as little felt in an individual’s life. They believe that government exists simply to give everybody the same starting point, the same opportunity to succeed and not assure that everybody succeeds. They feel that by trying to assure that everyone succeeds that government, by necessity, must take from those who are the most successful and give to those who failed and that by assuming such a role government is rewarding failure and punishing success. The capitalists within these groups feel that the economy is not simply one big pie which everybody gets a share of; they believe that those who produce continue to make more and more pies therefore allowing for everybody to receive more because the amount of pie is constantly being increased and is not a set amount. The Constitutionalists are the ones who make heroes out of the Founding Fathers equating them with inspired brilliance unequaled through all of political history. They will tend to quote them, each one crediting their own favorite, as having said in some form that, “The government that governs best governs least.” One point that many in this camp would support is that, as President Reagan said, “…government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” The Constitutionalists believe that the present day government has gone completely wild and take actions and jurisdiction over countless things which were forbidden by the Constitutional limitations. These are strong supporters of the entire Bill of Rights emphasizing often Amendments II,IV,V,IX and X and call for the repeal of Amendments XVI and XVII getting rid of the Income Tax and the direct election of the Senate returning control of the Senate to the State Legislators or whatever method each State might choose for themselves.

The idea of competition as a constructive force is something which both Capitalists and Constitutionalists will portray as a constructive driving force behind their philosophies. This is fairly obvious for the Capitalists as Capitalism is dependent upon competition as a limit on prices as when two or more businesses have to compete for customers, the one vital point very often is price such that whichever one can sell the product or provide service for the lower price with all else being basically equal, the lower price competitor will sell the most product or provide the majority of the services. The Constitutionalists will point out that by allowing the individual States to control the largest possible amount of governance over the Federal Government taking the lead, and then the fifty different States will act as fifty experiments in how to meet the needs and requirements of their citizens. In time a few States will be found to have the best ideas and the others will adopt the most appropriate and efficient of these methods. And as the other States adopt the technique proven by others will also make some modifications and some of these will be seen as an improvement which can then be made available even to the State originating the most efficient base approach.  The one thing that all of these people in this camp will agree is that the federal government has grown into an unmanageable behemoth which needs desperately to be put on a diet and trimmed down to size by reducing its size, power, scope, and influence even to include doing away with some of the Federal Government’s departments. As to how much or how far to restrict and trim the Federal Government is a matter where there may be numerous differing opinions and is where many are able to point to give evidence of hypocrisy. What they find is each group want the Federal Government to hold on to particular items which they support and these differences are the points of contention which often break the conservative groups apart and makes having an universal platform near impossible. One example to make the point is those who believe in the “Right to Life”. Where the entire group likely can find common ground against abortion and possibly even work something out considering birth control, they will break into two separate camps when addressing capital punishment. A large percentage of the Right to Life people support the death penalty as they are also “Law and Order” supporters while another large percentage extend the right to life to include being against the death penalty. There is no way to bridge this divide and any candidate running for office when addressing this issue is in a no win situation, whichever side they choose a large portion of their Right to Life supporters will disagree.

Which side is more aligned with what it means to be American of these two very different and separate groups? Well, that will completely depend on this upcoming election and everything else that follows. Everyone who is calling this a critical election which will determine much of the future of the United States are partially correct. This election will very likely set a course of the United States for the next decade or two. What is frightening is that an argument can be made that with the choice between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, whoever wins the election may not take the country in as diametrically different direction as we are being led to believe. One point which may place a spotlight on the exact reasons why this is likely true concerns Obama Care, also known as The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which has been given as the perfect example of the difference between the two parties in this election. It is not necessary to point out where President Obama stands on this program, it is his signature legislation despite the fact that he did little to write it and likely did not even make any huge contributions beyond pushing it through Congress by any means required. But where does Mitt Romney stand on The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act? All one needs to do is read the message on the front of the podium at which he stood when making the promise to address The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act first thing should he be elected to the Presidency. The podium signaled Mitt Romney’s real intentions where it said Repeal and Replace Obama Care. When considering this position one is tempted to ask the same question as should have been asked of Obama concerning Hope and Change. What exactly do you mean by Replace Mr. Romney? Will anybody ask this before they vote or will we once again elect somebody because we foolishly hope he means the same thing we do when he says Repeal and Replace?

Beyond the Cusp

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