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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December 8, 2013

Congress Should be Congratulated and Lauded for Inactivity

There have been a plethora of articles of late criticizing and belaboring the fact that the present Congressional session had passed the least pieces of legislation and considered far less bills than any in recent history. What is confusing me is why exactly that is a bad thing. It strikes me that the less Congress passes in legislation making new laws which spawn hundreds if not tens-of-thousands of new regulations for each piece of legislation passed the more freedom and liberty will remain with the American people, and that is a really beneficial and decent thing to laud. If you have any doubts about such, just take a look at the results from one piece of legislation, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also called Obamacare. That one piece of legislation was over a thousand pages of legalese and delegating responsibilities to different positions and staffs to fill out the needed and necessary regulations to fulfill every vaguely defined goal and any implied desirable results which could be divined from the endless text of the legislation. This led to over twenty-thousand pages of regulations at last count if some watchdog sources are to be believed. What makes things even more dire are the results we have already witnessed that have befallen many Americans who thought they were within the dictates of the law believing President Obama’s promises that they could keep their insurance if they liked it and they could keep their doctor if they liked him or her; but now we know those were lies and the worst kind of lies, intentional and misleading lies made to an unsuspecting and trusting people, after all it was the President who made the promises. So, when it was announced a few weeks back that this Congress had passed and considered the least amount of legislation and took less actions, votes, and other sundry decisions I was overjoyed and pray that this is simply the beginning of a favorable trend.

 

Imagine if this becomes a continuing trend where each successive Congress considers less legislation, passes less new laws, approve less new regulations and perchance spending less funds, what a boon that would be for the American people. If such a trend went on long enough the point might even be passed where the Congress would need to rescind legislation undoing some of the damage previously accrued through Congressional actions. Imagine less regulations and fewer laws and a government actually shrinking as it released itself from some of the most unnecessary or redundant workload which currently is the cause of wasted millions of dollars if not billions. Imagine if the Congress actually rediscovered one of the better and more innovative ideas from the Founding Fathers which was to leave all of the day-to-day regulating and laws to the individual states to address and the Congress and Federal Government simply attended to matters between the United States and other nations and was available to settle disagreements between states which were expected to be concerning fairness in trade more than anything else. That would give the American people the advantage of fifty separate states each attempting to address the day-to-day laws and regulations in as efficient and orderly a manner as they could imagine. Some states would excel at one thing while others would excel at their specialty and even if some states simply never got a great idea of their own you know what? The states could learn from each other’s actions and adopt the systems that functioned closest and were the best at attaining the goals of each state. Over time some states which adopted the methods of another state as they proved more efficient but they found something they could tweak to make it function even better in their case, well that improvement might be adopted by the originating state to test if it worked better there as well. There would be more minds with greater variety at addressing the needs of the people, the citizenry, that things would improve and better ways of getting items taken care of would be found more readily making everyone’s lives better off. Now if the United States Congress would just agree, but a slowdown is a step in the right direction.

 

As long as we are on the subject of improving governance and the government that is responsible for such perhaps a few pipe-dream suggestions could be offered. The first would be that when Congress passes any legislation they then must approve every single regulation which is written to flesh out the bill and make it functioning. The Congress need not necessarily write every single regulation, though that would be preferable as that at least is performed under the scrutiny of concerned citizens, they should have to vote every one of them up or down such that the regulations are at least reviewed by the people elected by the citizenry to represent their interests. The laws passed by the Congress should necessarily be applied to the members of Congress and their staffs with absolutely no exceptions. The use of Congressional exception that allows the Congress not to be subjected to the very laws they impose on the people is the height of governmental hypocrisy. This should include all laws pertaining to illegal insider trading and other illicit financial dealings as the members of Congress should not be allowed to invest their monies into companies they know they are about to grant multi-billion dollar contracts and thus become wealthy beyond measure as a result. The members of Congress and their staff should be required to place their investment monies in a blind trust where a manager controls their investments and it should be illegal and punishable by impeachment and imprisonment for any member of Congress to dictate or even contact the person handling their investments by direct or indirect means. All laws and regulations should be given a sunset clause of no more than a decade such that if the law or regulation is not reviewed and voted to remain active at least once every ten years, then that law or regulation should be made null and void. Then there is the final pipe-dream; make the entire Federal Government, every department, sub-department, agency, cabinet position, committee and any other functioning part of government justify their continued existence by stating before a review board appointed by the states what exactly under the Constitution allows their continued existence and if they are unsuccessful in doing so, then they would be disbanded and cease to exist. A similar procedure with laws and regulations might not be a bad idea as well. My bet is that virtually every unfunded mandate which places the financial responsibility for a Federal Government imposed requirement or program be placed on the individual states would disappear in a rapid manner. The unfunded mandate is an edict from the Federal Government which denies the states their right to have a vote in determining what they will be required to finance. That is just one more reason to return the selection process for Senators to the individual states by repealing the Amendment XVII. States could decide to continue to allow for the direct election of their Senators by their voters, but they should be granted their choice as having the states choose the manner or even the person who will become their Senator was another of the major checks and balances built into the Constitution and the balance has been destroyed and is very much responsible for the Federal Government expanding its powers unchecked and running roughshod over the states in the process. It is time to give the individual states back their voice in the Federal government, way past time.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

October 5, 2012

My Big Surprise from Presidential Debate One

I watched the first Presidential Debate of the 2012 Election Cycle with low expectations and not expecting anything that might actually change my despair of the coming day I had felt I had little choice. Where I will not jump to any conclusions or dance with joy, but I now have found a glimmer of hope. It just might be that those who had tried to dispel my exasperations about Mitt Romney winning the Republican nomination may have had a valid point, though they likely did not state it as well as Candidate Romney did during the debate. This was after an even earlier piece of discouragement when John Bolton, our once recess appointed United Nations Ambassador, announced that he had no interest in running for the Republican nomination race for President. After that I had some lesser amounts of hope of which none was ever placed in Mitt Romney. Much of Romney’s record as Governor of Massachusetts did not inspire any evidence of a great conservative constitutionally guided leader. What it had shown me was a pragmatist who would lead only as far as the possible and not take on the big challenges of pushing monumental change. The one thing I believe we need right now in the United States is a monumental transformation returning us to the original intentions expressed in our founding documents, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights respectively and in that order of importance.

What I expected from the debates was Mitt Romney touting an economic plan to make an environment where businesses could flourish and people would be rewarded for choosing to invest and risk their time, treasure, and efforts in order to pursue their dreams and establish new ventures, businesses and opportunities. Well, I definitely got that performance from Mitt Romney. As far as President Barack Obama was concerned, I fully expected a better showing despite his previous problems when having to speak without his little friend the teleprompter and answer questions off the cuff or defend his positions when challenged. What I saw instead was a wondrous destruction and dismantlement of the President who appeared unprepared for any confrontation. President Obama almost appeared as if he had expected assistance from the moderator to cripple any thrusts by Romney and permit the President to give his typical long winded, delusional answers which leave people impressed despite having garnered no information or knowledge from another extensive, tendentious, overly-long, vacuous oration relatively devoid of substance. We did not even get a performance worthy of this description. Instead President Obama came across disconnected, distracted, distant, and unable to connect with the audience, the questions, or the conversation. The debate was between a prepared and on his game Mitt Romney against an unprepared, distraught and off his game President Obama. It was not a fair representation of the best of both candidates, but this too was not the surprise which rocked my view of Mitt Romney.

Those who have read Beyond the Cusp likely know the Tenth Amendment almost by heart as it is one of our favorites among all the integral documents which were written by inspired men during the events at the beginnings of the United States. We have even claimed at one point that simply by a dedicated review of every piece of legislation, every law, and every regulation with regard to the Tenth Amendment would restore the intended balance of powers between the over-bloated Federal Government and the disempowered individual State Governments and the People of the United States. When Mitt Romney mentioned the Tenth Amendment in its proper context I almost fell off my chair. He followed this up by mentioning the importance of State rights and empowerment. And then came his stating the Founding Fathers reasoning for empowering the States over the central government, that each State would be better able to serve the individual and distinct needs of their residents than any program fashioned by a distant Federal government in Washington DC. He also hit the point that by empowering the individual States to address problems we set forth fifty separate experiments with each one taking a potentially different tact to address and fill the needs and problems on any issue. Romney pointed out that through this method the individual States which were most effective, efficient, cost-efficient and versatile means of serving the public could then be copied and even refined further as other States adopted the items from all of the State efforts which proved to be the most suited and promising. This grasp and apparent affection, dare I say love, with the Tenth Amendment and his display of his full and complete understanding of all the intricacies spawned by the Tenth Amendment was close to inspiring. The remaining debates just got more interesting and likely very important. I can only hope that Mitt Romney can incorporate more of the intricacies and implications from the original intentions of those geniuses who crafted the Declarations of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and especially the Tenth Amendment. The one last particular I would like to hear out of Mitt Romney would be his dismissing Romney Care as something he did as a Governor and something allowed by the Constitution and something he would be prohibited from retaining as Obama Care as that is an offense and contradiction to the Constitution. No more repeal and replace, simply applying the Constitution and relevant limitations to remove this onerous conglomeration of obscene and illegal amassing of power by the Federal Government.

Beyond the Cusp

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