Beyond the Cusp

October 4, 2012

Will the Presidential Election Really Prove so Critical?

Both of the Presidential campaigns claim to have the only path to take the United States into the future and remain a great country. Both campaigns claim that should the other side win the election that the United States would suffer grievously and great opportunities will become impossible to obtain as a result. The questions we need to ask are, will the consequences of this election be that much more critical than usual and are the ramifications as dire and impossible to turn around should we find we are heading in a wrong direction. Where both sides will claim the answer is that the consequences are that dire and any recovery from taking the other path will be next to impossible. Such critical and consequential decisions are very rare throughout all of history and are usually not known until decades, possibly centuries or millennium, later when history judges those events. In the history of the United States there have been two recognized decisions deserving of such a description. The first was the decision to break with the Crown and England rather than attempting to continue to find a way through compromise. The second was the Civil War and the end of slavery along with greatly increasing the central power of the federal government at the expense of the individual States. Almost everything else in the history of the United States can be attributed to these two pivotal events.

Some will argue that there have been numerous other such events. One that has often been touted was the Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Where his Presidency was noteworthy as he held the office longer than any of his predecessors and was the impetus behind a Constitutional Amendment to limit the number of terms a President is allowed to serve to two, which is really not sufficient to be qualified as a critically crucial event. Much of the rest of the often mentioned items begun under Roosevelt’s Administration such as his big government work programs, the Social Security Act, and the plethora of programs designed to resolve the depression; all of these were made possible largely due to the result of the Federalization of Power in the central government during the Civil War. Some have claimed that the United States stepping up as a world power and acting as the World’s police force was another such event. What makes this less of a turning point is that this position has been passed from the leading powers of every age to the next great powers. Egypt was succeeded by Persia who passed off to Greece then Rome, Islam, Spain, England, Russia, China in the East, and the United States. But at what point did the United States actually become the preeminent power? Was it after World War II or after World War I or did the United States assume this role as early as when addressing the Barbary Pirates almost at the founding of the nation? The truth is that the United States has stepped up and then receded from the role of protector of freedom throughout its history and will likely continue to pass through times of outward diplomacy and force projection and passivity towards the rest of the world while turning inward to address internal challenges. Due to this changing from the role as leader of the free world or whatever slogan describes the outward looking United States and the introspective, inward looking, laissez-faire United States, one would need to be constantly determining critical periods as the United States directed her attentions in the two almost mutually exclusive directions. It has only been the last half of the Twentieth Century where the United States attempted to do both simultaneously and thus far that has proven to be a very difficult task. We are more likely to see the United States return more to being introspective and self-concerned turning to address the world as the situation demands. And to be honest, this is a lot of what this election hinges upon, do we want to remain a force in the wider world or do we want to be more reserved and take care of the home front and let the world take care of itself. The introspective, leave the world be is personified by President Obama’s policies of leading from behind where it is more likely that a Romney Presidency would stay more involved in world affairs and shaping the future outside of the United States while President Obama requires the world to take the lead and request the assistance from the United States before acting, and even then the answer may still be no thanks and good luck.

Yes, that is but one of the big ticket items and there are numerous others that need to be considered. The other main areas to be decided in this Presidential Election are the amount of a role the Federal Government should have concerning the economy and whether or not the Federal Government should have a large and direct influence and control of the lives of the citizenry of the United States, something that would be made necessary if the Federal Government were to take on the responsibility for the health care of each and every person. There are many aspects of these two choices which overlap. Both issues are a direct question on the range and scope of the powers to be delegated to the Federal Government. This is the other main aspect where we are choosing between two diametrically opposed views. President Obama has defined his view very succinctly when he claimed that he viewed the Constitution of the United States as a document of negative liberties when he believed it needed to be changed to become a document of positive liberties and that the Constitution should not tell government, the Federal Government, those things it must not do but should tell the government those things it must do. Mitt Romney, on the other hand, has said he supports the position of the Founding Fathers who were largely in favor of a small central government which was of lesser power than the individual States and of the people. This is basically the definition of the Amendment X which states, “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.” This decision is likely the most vital when it comes to the people and the future of the United States. This is why this election has also been framed as the decision between going forward to a new and completely different America or whether to retain and preserve those things which made America a unique entity among nations.

So, what exactly are the choices this puts to the voting public of the United States? Contrary to what is being peddled, this is not a choice of the future versus the past; this is a choice between diametrically opposite paths for the future. What is being presented is a radically different future against the retention of what has served the United States thus far for over two-hundred years. President Obama has told us that the United States has been on the wrong path since the founding and the writing of the Constitution. It is President Obama’s conviction that the United States should be more aligned with the European model of governance. It is his vision that it is not too late for the United States to join the European model of cradle to grave government care for virtually every need or requirement in life. President Obama wants the Federal Government to make sure that every person has a set of minimum basics in life as determined by those in Government who know more than any individual as to what makes their life worth living. It is President Obama’s opinion that the Federal Government needs to make all things more equal by redistributing resources such that everybody is guaranteed a certain minimal existence as determined by the Federal Government. The Federal government will also make sure that nobody is allowed to get too much as that would not leave enough for everybody else. He wants to bring the top down and the bottom up so that there is less of a gap between the two extremes. It is the opinion of President Obama that those who are at the bottom in the United States are living a horrid and deprived existence which denies them the basics in life. The fact that the poorest among us in the United States would qualify as middle class or wealthy almost anywhere else in the world does not seem to register with him, or does it? You see, President Obama does not only want to apply his vision of a more equitable society just to the United States; if he could find a way to do so, President Obama would apply his idea of equality in all things by force of government for the entire world. It is as he said in the 2008 campaign, “We can’t drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times, and then just expect that other countries are going to say okay. That’s not leadership. That’s not going to happen” So, this might be something worth remembering when you vote for equality for all under President Obama, because if it is applied internationally we will all be living a far more Spartan existence while we send the bulk of our country’s wealth overseas.

Candidate Mitt Romney claims that he wants to preserve much of what has made the United States experiment work as well as it has. Unfortunately, Romney’s idea of preserving the United States as it has been is actually more towards keeping the United States where it has arrived and not going any further. The current state of the United States might be equated with a patient in the emergency room suffering from a severe loss of blood and the doctor saying he wants to keep the patient in his current state. Such a state is too weak to carry on with vigor but at least the patient has not died. The same can be said for the United States and its experiment in self-rule for mankind. The United States borrowed a concept from the Old Testament of the Bible in the Five Books of Moses where the government was to only posses the powers relegated to it by its citizenry. The government was supposed to protect each individual from outside invasion and to adjudicate between individuals in cases of disagreements or conflict. In all other things the people were supposed to act honorably with each other mostly by entering into contracts and agreements where exchange of goods, services, and other things of value ruled the day to day lives of the citizens. This is the ideal that the United States has slipped further and further from its realization. Where Mitt Romney claims he will, at the least, hold the line, many desire something a little more radical, a return to the principles of the founders, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution. Over the past two plus centuries the United States has slowly but unswervingly moved further and further from the ideals upon which the nation was founded. This is not any one generation’s fault as it began from the very first day and has continued and accelerated ever since. What we are offered in this election is Mitt Romney’s I will put the brakes on and slow the rushing train to avoid the wreck to President Obama’s we can avoid the wreck by speeding up, never mind that there is a cliff and no bridge, we will worry about that when we get there. The problem is we really need to stop, turn this train around and avoid the wreck all together.

So, the choice facing us will hopefully be made clear during the debates which the first was held last night. It really is worth taking a close look and inspecting exactly what each side is offering. For those who see the coming train wreck quickly approaching there is no decent choice and once again you will be choosing the least damaging choice. The actual choices are a radical shift which President Obama has made great strides in accomplishing a start at fundamentally transforming the United States against Mitt Romney who claims he will repeal and replace Obama Care which is also pretty much his view on much else of the current state of affairs. If what you desire is repeal without the replace, well, better luck next election as that choice is not available from the two main parties. So, watch debates, read, slowly go crazy and you vote and takes your chances.

Beyond the Cusp

April 28, 2012

Can the Deficit Bomb be Defused?

The shrill, apocalyptic discourse about the debt crisis usually will include terms which make the problem appear insolvable. We hear the same harried discourse about college loan debt, credit card debt, and indebtedness in general. Everything is weighed as being the next possible bubble to burst causing the next calamity. All this frenetic rhetoric adds little to the discussion making finding a path to sanity and a solution even more difficult. The solution is the same for our entire society as it is for the government and each sector where a problem has been identified and validated as real and is not just more fear mongering. The truth of the matter is many of us have faced this problem in our own lives at one time and found our way clear simply by doing what was necessary and acting responsibly. Responsibility is the problem as expecting our elected officials to act responsibly, maturely, and with restraint is like asking a fish to give up water. Our political class has addicted themselves to spending whatever it takes to buy their own reelection. Since many of those in the political class have been doing so little in the way of productive work beyond seeking reelection, they have become incapable of performing anything which passes as productive labor and have become the same nature of drag on our economy as any other addict. So, what are the solutions and how can we put our society and country back onto a healthy path?

The first and possibly most vital step would be to break the cycle of politicians constantly being in reelection mode. What might tend to work would be to put in place a combination of term limits and a way of minimizing the frequency the politician needs to face elections. We could place a limit of three terms on both Senators and Representatives with a slight adjustment to the terms of our members elected to the House of Representatives. Instead of having them face election every two years make the elections slightly less necessary. When a Representative is elected for their first term they serve the customary two year term. If they are reelected to a second term it lasts four years and if they are reelected to the third and final term they serve six years. This way we allow the Representatives who the people most approve of their performance get to serve longer but are still limited to a maximum of twelve years but only need to face election a total of a maximum three times. Senators we simply limit to three terms and the six year terms they currently serve should be just fine. This would at least end the near constant election mode currently imposed on Representatives. But what do we do next?

There is a need to make sure that our Representatives and Senators have some form of productive work, or at least not counter-productive work. Currently the system allows them to just seek reelection and pass legislation which, once passed, move on and never look back. One simple method to achieve this would be to make it such that all legislation contains a sunset clause which would force them to readdress each piece of legislation every ten years after it was passed into law. This would at least take away some of the time currently spent inventing new legislation, often needless legislation. We also need to do away with the ability of our elected officials to add pork and miscellaneous amendments to popular or funding bills which they are sure are going to pass simply to either sneak something through the legislative process that would likely not stand the full inspection if it stood alone or sends monies back to their home district or state to some supporter of particular note who they feel an obligation to reward. This can be accomplished simply by implementing a single subject rule for all legislation which would restrict any amendment to a piece of legislation to those which directly apply to that legislation and not some extraneous subject or unrelated expenditure.

One item that would end much of the problems we face would be for the Supreme Court to redefine the Commerce Clause and severely limit the scope and inclusiveness of the current interpretation. What is beautiful is just such an opportunity is presently being addressed by the Supreme Court. When the Supreme Court Justices reach their decision later this year, presumable sometime this summer, on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka Obama Care) they have that golden, once in a lifetime opportunity to redefine this ruinous interpretation which has allowed the Federal Government to grow beyond any measure of restraint. Redefining the Commerce Clause to a strict and narrow definition might enable not only restricting any future growth but actually lead to the imposition of Constitutional limits forcing the limiting and narrowing of the Federal Government. In the best of all cases, such a redefinition would actually allow a challenge against those departments which strict constructionists have long held are not Constitutional or are at the least are contrary to the intent of our founding Fathers. We can dream, can’t we?

The next item we need to address is the method we currently use to implement regulations. We need to no longer allow faceless bureaucrats to initiate regulations and put an end to the Congress passing bills which assign the implementation of the law to those in the Administrative branch of the government. We must have our elected officials actually take the time to flesh out the entire span and depth of the implementation of the legislations they pass. We need to have those who are held responsible through the ballot box to write the regulations rather than allow people beyond the reach or influence of the people. The problem with the current system is that the “Secretary” of a department is tasked with implementing the regulations, guidelines, penalties, fees and the rest of the items necessary to flesh out some vague legislation passed by Congress. This allows for endless growth in the numbers and scope of regulation that are implemented from any single piece of legislation. This is made all the worse due to the fact that by expanding the scope, reach and numbers of regulations under any law allows the department to hire more positions for enforcement and implementation thus giving an incentive to the people currently tasked with applying laws to make the regulations as impossible and expansive thus ensuring job security and additional positions thus growth of the department making more room for advancement. We must end giving regulatory responsibility to those who gain directly by additional and impossible over-regulation.

The final item is profligate spending. We have many redundant positions and departments within the various alphabet soup of agencies and departments who perform what is politely referred to as redundant activities. They actually get in each other’s way making both groups less efficient. I would not be surprised if an investigation of the mechanisms of our government would reveal agencies where one side implements or places some function in place and then another agency is tasked to come along behind them and remove or undo whatever was committed by the previous groups actions. Such a cycle could become very efficient at enlarging both groups as they would both be able to put in requests for additional personnel as their challenge would obviously never by minimized. We also need to allow for the people on an actual government jobsite some discretion to allow for leniency in the application of regulations so something which is obviously sufficient to satisfy the intention of some rule but is technically not covered by the exacting parameters. I have an example from my college days when I worked on a HUD house remodeling it to fit HUD regulations. The back porch did not meet code so we had to tear it down and replace the porch. The code demanded certain supports be present and this porch had no supports at all so it had to be rebuilt. A team of six college youth, myself included, worked for close to ten days with pick axes and sledge hammers breaking down this unstable porch which did not meet the HUD regulations. It took quite some time to manually chop down a porch which measure twelve feet square and eight feet tall made out of a solid block of reinforced concrete. It occurred to me that this might have not needed the wooden supports every no more than sixteen inches but the HUD inspector insisted it be rebuilt to code. This is the kind of worthless waste that probably exists in way too many places where the government enforces its arbitrary rules and regulations. Once we pull back on the spending, make our elected officials implement the particulars and regulations thus at least limiting their numbers which has to benefit businesses which would give the economy a boost, and bring the Federal Government under some control limiting its growth rate, then we can begin to whittle away on the deficit and once that is eradicated, we can then begin to pay more than just the interest on the national debt. Imagine an America without any national debt. Now there is a dream worth pursuing.

Beyond the Cusp

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: