Just What Is All That Electoral College Stuff?
During the 1970s American women activists objected to paying the same auto insurance premiums as men. They argued that the pay-outs for accidents involving women were lower than those for men, that their premiums were, in effect, subsiding those of men (who had higher pay-outs), so women should pay lower premium rates than men. So they took their argument to court. The courts agreed, and thereafter auto insurance premiums were set according to actuarial tables, i.e., on the basis of pay-outs for different groups of drivers according to age, gender, driving record, etc.. (As long as women benefit by at least a third more than men in pay-outs for both Social Security and Medicare, for government insurance, they naturally have always maintained that both genders should pay the same premium rates, regardless of actuarial tables.) This practice for commercial insurance worked fine for the next thirty-five years – until some women discovered that their premiums were now higher than for men in some states. This was due to the fact that various factors, all related to the changing behavior of women, over the previous three decades had resulted in higher pay-outs for accidents involving women than for men. Now women activists wanted to invoke gender “equality”, and worked to have laws passed requiring premiums for men and women to be the same – regardless of pay-outs. And dumb state legislatures (not the courts this time), unaware of the history and not bothering to check out the legal precedent, agreed. And men, as dumb as ever, said nothing.
“Let’s change the rules! (As long as I benefit.)”
Score another victory for “women’s rights” – one that reverses an earlier victory. (It’s that magical “selective memory”, the one that always serves yourself, at the expense of others.)
And now, of course, these same “special” people are working the same trickery with the new health care law; the whole idea is to get “someone else” to pick of the tab for the costs of their own lifestyle choices – our own birthright-entitled and unassailable nobility class sticking it to the dumb peasants. (See “Obamacare Doesn’t“.)
Everyone ALWAYS wants to make up new rules that favor themselves at the moment. They just don’t want to live with the ultimate consequences of those rules later – when they come home to roost. “Why, then we’ll just make up NEW rules!” Just who is this “we”? Without exception, the “we” is ALWAYS those who stand to benefit the most (at the expense of “someone else”, naturally), those with the biggest mob or the most power, those who can’t or don’t want to measure up to the standards, to make it work. When this discussion involves the whole nation, it is the root of anarchy, the fuse leading to societal disintegration, the end of the game. Escaping that ever-shifting crap to keep self-anointed “elitists” on top is what invented and made America, is why we have such a complicated democracy. Notice that “changing the rules” also invariably involves “lowering the standards”, something embraced only by pathetic losers who don’t want to measure up to the standards of predecessors.
The rules don’t bother those who play by them and still manage to win. Only losers ever want to change the rules.
The US Constitution is difficult – on purpose. It is not “perfect” – on purpose. It was made by and for, not kings or gods, but actual humans, people committing treason at the risk of their very lives, and then periodically tweaked with great difficulty by other actual humans. These people were not so very different from many people throughout much of the world today. The Constitution they eventually came up with represents a very good compromise among many different human interests, all within a backdrop of experience with various forms of oppressive autocrats and artificial privilege. As such, it’s a decent set of rules that each succeeding generation of Americans, in vastly different circumstances, has been reasonably able to live within while still moving ahead. Ours is the longest lasting form of government on Earth, so it must have something going for it. It enabled a robust and hard-working society of 2,400,000 to accommodate hundreds of millions of immigrants from all over the world, from every kind of governing state imaginable, and grow to 310,000,000 over 235 years and create a global super-power out of a vast wilderness. That’s enormously impressive in itself.
Now, once again, for at least the fiftieth time in our history, some want to change the rules, to alter the Constitution to better fit their purposes, to form a “more perfect ideal”, to “accommodate an evolving sense of rights.” It’s actually remarkable that most such efforts in the past failed. It’s also very fortunate, or we would no longer be America. The Republic of Rome started off on the right foot, but “elitist” autocrats began changing the rules, facilitating an “evolving” form of government, and “evolving sense of rights”, until ultimately, inevitably, Rome was no longer Rome, and simply disintegrated, vanished into history, leaving little behind beyond its original thinking. Rome succumbed to the natural human tendency to keep tipping the table in favor of those making the rules, the biggest bully with the most power. With this and similar history lessons ever in mind, the US Constitution has proven, thankfully, quite resistant to change, so that the table remains fairly evenly balanced, allowing most interests to have a representative voice in the overall conduct of the state.
Despite its original inability to address the continent’s most glaring flaw, slavery, it was still able to be revised within its own provisions, to eventually fix what most had always known, from the very first draft, was “unfinished business”. Despite the polemics about the other “flaw”, the case of women voting was actually just as much a matter of conflict among women as it was an arrogantly protective attitude among men. Very many women, seeing major responsibilities that accompanied rights, were not as eager as some other women to go down that road. For a long time it was difficult to discern just what most women actually wanted. In the end, women got the vote when enough of them decided unequivocally that was what they wanted and then made enough noise to get it. That’s all it took – noise. American men might be dumb, but they’re also accommodating, probably the most accommodating such group in human history.
(The drafters of the Constitution, intent on getting enough independent states to sign on to a “United States”, including those states which vigorously defended slavery, opted to leave it to the states to decide voting qualifications. Women were never “denied” anything; the individual states were simply allowed to retain their right to decide what was necessary to vote in their own state, based on what the majority of citizens, including women, of each state desired. The United States of America has never “denied” women anything, and has never “forced” them to do anything, period. On the contrary, it has frequently granted women free passes on a wide range of responsibilities, based on their critical procreation function – which society needs to survive. Absent that critical function, such free passes, such favorable discriminations, are simply not justified, or constitutionally legal. For a society to just barely survive, each man and woman couple needs to produce and raise at least two healthy off-spring.)
The most important factor in America’s success is “the rule of law”, a system of laws all solidly based in constant basic principles of justice contained in our “basic law”, which we call the Constitution. It is that basic law, the fact that those principles remain constant, that gives citizens realistic hope and enables them to plan for and build toward a future. With a set of rather constant rules, generation after generation of Americans have so far viewed their challenge in a vibrant open society as does any good athletic coach: “You learn the rules; you master the process; and then you beat the jerks at their own game.” That’s known as “The American Way”. In America, if you want it badly enough, there’s ALWAYS a way to win. And you will always earn respect if you can figure out how to do it within the rules, rules that apply to everyone equally. As soon as you start changing the rules to favor yourself, you will earn only contempt. This is American “feminism’s” biggest problem, and their refusal to accept one set of constant rules has resulted in a plethora of negatives throughout our society, including a wide range of double standards, a steady lowering of standards for everyone, and a social environment decided not by rules or logic but rather by whining and emotion.
Besides, why plan for the future if some self-involved nitwit down the road is just going to pull the rug out to keep the field tipped in their favor? What moron wants to defend THAT? Who wants to invest in that future? That’s why all those rights come with corresponding responsibilities – for the other guy. Everyone is supposed to have an equal stake and an equal responsibility. There is no “special” in “equal”. Whenever people start talking about changing the rules to favor the loudest whining group of the moment, I am reminded of the Peanuts character Charley Brown, concentrating everything he has to race forward and kick the teed-up football, only to have Lucy yank the ball away at the last second – so that all of Charley’s concentrated efforts accomplish nothing but wasted energy. The only thing I ever see in rule changers are whining losers trying to compensate for their own shortcomings, trying to rig the game in their favor. America promises equal opportunity; it does not promise equal results. It is up to the individual to take advantage of the opportunity to achieve the results they seek – in a game that has the exact same constant rules for everyone. (With children it is the responsibility of adults to ensure that everyone, at the end of childhood, begins the adult game from the same start line, no matter what that requires; during childhood, from ages 0 to 18, it IS about ensuring equal results. The absence of equal results at the end of childhood is prima facie evidence of institutional bigotry. See “Why Are American Men So Dumb?”.)
Well, perhaps there is an exception to this simple logic, in the minds of some. Enough women eventually decided that they did, in fact, want the right to vote, and then had their desire enshrined in the Constitution, but unfortunately they slyly never said anything about responsibilities. More on this later. Once you start granting separate rules for “special” people, based on artificial group labels or accidents of birth, and nothing else, you are firmly on the same road took by ancient Rome.
The most nauseating statement in American English is, “I have RIGHTS! I do NOT have responsibilities! It is the responsibility of “someone else” to ensure whatever rights I decide to demand for very special me.” Result: America will very soon be one big bankrupt Detroit. Americans don’t even own their own country anymore. We are ALL living on borrowed time, borrowed money, borrowed futures, because “feminism” made the responsibility parts strictly for “someone else”.
A good recent and recurring example of some wanting to change the rules involves the composition of the US Senate. Each state, regardless of physical or population size, is allotted exactly two senators in Congress. There are those who think the two-senators-per-each-state idea is “undemocratic” because it gives small states disproportionate power over large states in passing federal laws applicable to everyone. Such folks should take note of the fact there is nothing to prohibit those large states from passing their own state laws applicable to themselves, and not applicable to other states, and vice versa. There is also nothing to prohibit groups of states from cooperating to pass similar laws in their own states for their own internal and cross-border interests. The only consideration is that such laws not be in violation of the US Constitution. So this is essentially a red herring argument advanced, as usual, by the “tyranny of the majority” considering only “me” – the same “tyranny of the majority” that enabled some states to continue the practice of slavery. A contemplative observer would wonder why so much attention is focused on the federal government, and not on the state governments; the answer is usually that people prefer to impose their will on others, not necessarily on themselves. (It’s always best, and easier, to impose rules on “someone else” than it is on “me”.) The US Senate was envisioned as a brake on the transitory impetuosity and short-sightedness of herds whipped into hysteria by slick propaganda – something just as, if not more, probable today as ever. (Members of the House have to face re-election every two years, which doesn’t give them much time to “make their mark”; members of the Senate are secure in their position for six years, which is why they were previously considered to be more mature, wise and contemplative.) One of the main jobs of the Senate is also to protect the interests of the individual states; as such it is often tasked with considering issues far broader and longer range than what various noisy interest groups want for themselves, for select groups of citizens, at any given moment. Besides, the US House, which is specifically apportioned by population, must also pass on any such federal laws, and that’s often a much bigger problem than in the US Senate. The House balances the Senate’s primary state interest with its primary citizen interest, and citizens constitute a very wide range of different groups.
You hear similar demands to “change the rules” every time the Supreme Court renders an opinion that upsets those of an opposing political ilk. This has been the case in America ever since the Court rendered its first contentious decision 220 years ago in 1793 (which led to the Constitution’s Eleventh Amendment). The nine Supreme Court justices are each nominated by a sitting President, and are exhaustively vetted, studied and interrogated by both the Executive and Legislative branches, all political parties and the Fourth Estate press, before they are eventually approved for appointment by a majority of the Senate. This exhaustive procedure allows all political parties, the press and both the President and Congress a say in the matter. To ensure their independence, the Court appointment is for life (or, at the elective choice of the justice, to retire before death). They are sentient humans who remain in touch with their society and its popular thinking movements, and if partisan politics in Washington grows too juvenile to reach adult compromise needed to pass intelligent legislation or repeal stupid legislation, then the Court will fill the void when necessary. The problem, of course, is that Supreme Court justices, very heavily steeped in the law, have a way of thinking independently, of rising above partisan politics, and often don’t follow with decisions expected of those who had approved their appointment. Every time that happens, there are those who want to change the rules, to limit the length of the appointment. And that would require an amendment to the Constitution, approved first by two-thirds of both the House and Senate and then ratified by three-fourths of the states. (In recent times this “unpredictability” about Court decisions has been undermined somewhat by women on the Court who see their primary function as a dedication to the self-interests of their own group, regardless of the whole; with such women justices, it’s the responsibility of “someone else” to ensure the rights of their group, which evidently has no responsibility for anything in their society. Their decisions are thus 100% predictable, and entirely self-serving. If your group has never been held responsible for anything, what would change in that equation once its members assumed the most powerful positions in the land?)
In a democracy, if you don’t like the law, you can petition your representative in Congress to get legislation passed that changes the law by majority vote. The Constitution, too, CAN be changed, but not by judges. The only legal way for the Constitution to “evolve” is by the authorized mechanism of amending the Constitution – a democratic process which also begins with legislation in Congress. It is NOT up to judges to make new law; that capability is limited solely to the people’s duly elected representatives serving in the US Congress. Only losers who can’t achieve a difficult democratic majority in Congress seek to easily use the courts to dictate by fiat, and that is NOT democracy. The sole role of judges is to interpret the Constitution’s applicability to the precise case before the court, and decide that case accordingly. If you want the Constitution to “evolve” as the nation “evolves”, then you can use the appropriate democratic process to enable that “evolution”; it’s called “amending the Constitution”. (When you take the time to do this properly, you will usually realize that all you’re really doing is lowering the standards and turning them into meaningless mush, simply because the old standards are too “hard”.)
Over 11,500 proposals to amend the Constitution have been introduced in Congress since 1789, but only 33 were eventually sent to the states, and, of these, only 27 became part of the Constitution. The first 10 are the original Bill of Rights attached to and part of the original Constitution, so only 17 amendments have survived the process since 1794 (including the 18th establishing alcohol Prohibition and the 21st repealing the 18th). Today, 220 years after ratification, only 15 changes to the original Constitution stand. The framers of the US Constitution, recognizing the difference between regular legislation and constitutional matters, intended that it be quite difficult to change the Constitution, but not so difficult as to render it an inflexible instrument of government. The procedure they devised has worked extremely well; it’s what makes “US Law” the most respected in the world. You mess with it at peril to the nation, and risk the faith of the rest of the world.
“The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected.” – G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936), English writer, poet, philosopher, dramatist, journalist, orator, lay theologian, biographer, and literary and art critic.
There are, however, those who favor perverting the US Constitution’s prescribed separation of powers provisions (legislative, executive and judicial) and by-passing the legislative process entirely. Proponents of this route instead use the courts to make law, claiming that the Constitution is a “living” document that is constantly “evolving”, an argument which turns words to mush and allows the text to be “interpreted” any way that will get you to where you want to go. This is just pure nonsense, an admission of losers that their “argument” is in the minority and cannot win via the democratic process of majority rule in the legislative branch, where, under our system, law is supposed to be made. “If you can’t win according to the rules in democratic elections, just use the judicial branch to make the laws you like, damned what the majority of Americans and their elected representatives in Congress prefer.” It’s another argument favored by losers who have concluded that playing by the rules is too hard – similar to athletes who have concluded that the only way they can best truly remarkable records of the past is to secretly use modern performance enhancing wonder drugs that were not available in the past, i.e., to cheat.
This is the struggle between “strict constructionism” (sometimes referred to as “originalism” or “textualism”), which limits or restricts judicial interpretation of law by requiring courts to consider only the original intent of the law’s wording, and “judicial activism”, which permits judicial interpretations based on current personal or political considerations rather than on existing law. The “law” includes the provisions of the US Constitution and all subsequent laws passed by the US Congress (legislative branch) and signed by the President (executive branch). Judicial activism opens the door to the judicial branch making new law never intended by the US Constitution or by the US Congress, and violates the provisions of the US Constitution which prescribe the specific functions of the three branches of American democracy (“separation of powers”). It is especially dangerous inasmuch as the judicial branch includes the US Supreme Court, above which there is no recourse. So you have a situation where the Court makes law and simultaneously rules on its constitutionality, rules on the Court’s own infallibility. This is imposed rule by political activism using supreme power from above; it is not American democracy where power arises from the people. Generally, strict constructionism is favored by political conservatives, while judicial activism is favored by political liberals. The only thing more threatening to American democracy than politically doctrinaire academia (which inevitably infects journalism) is politically motivated judicial activism – from either the right or the left. It is Rule By Dictate.
What Private Property?
Attached to, as an integral part of, the US Constitution is the Bill Of Rights – ten amendments that enumerate the rights of individual citizens that cannot be violated by their government. Amendments Four and Five address private property in rather straight-forward terms:
Four: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
The Fourth Amendment protects Americans from “unreasonable searches and seizures” by the government. But the Supreme Court’s interpretation of “unreasonable” has varied over time. Some searches require warrants, but others do not. In general, the Fourth Amendment protects a person and their property from searches by the government wherever there is a “reasonable expectation of privacy.” For instance, trash that is still inside a person’s home is protected; trash sitting beside the street curb for pickup is not.
Five: “No person shall … be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”
The Fifth Amendment protects the right to private property in two ways. First, it states that a person may not be deprived of property by the government without “due process of law,” or fair procedures. In addition, it sets limits on the traditional practice of eminent domain, such as when the government takes private property to build a public road. Under the Fifth Amendment, such takings must be for a “public use” and require “just compensation” at market value for the property seized.
The US Constitution says that the search and seizure of private property by the US government can be accomplished only via duly constituted judicial process. Most Americans take this simple fact for granted. But in recent times Baby Boomers have come up with some truly bizarre “interpretations” of their own English language and invented ways to change some of our most fundamental rules by simple bureaucratic decree. The arrogance of government, especially in the “law enforcement” arena, now grows more breath-taking by the year. Who needs actual laws enacted by the people’s elected representatives in the legislature of the US Congress when you can just make up your own self-serving bureaucratic rules whenever it’s convenient (and profitable)?
For example, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) is a federal quasi-police agency that has been waging a perennially losing war against illegal drugs for the past fifty years. In the ten years from 2007 to 2016, this government agency confiscated a truly staggering $3,200,000,000 in cash from people “suspected of involvement” in the drug trade but never charged with a crime. And they did it without any judicial process. This arm of the government simply stole $3.2 Billion from people and put it in their own coffers. And this enormous sum does not include a far greater value in property such as real estate, vehicles, vessels and similar assets, also confiscated by DEA without due process or just compensation. Such practices also have become common for a wide range of other “law enforcement” entities in America who fail to see the irony of enforcing this law by violating that law or the sickening hypocrisy of police behaving as crooks with the full power of the state. A rational person has to wonder who taught these people how to think, or even to read the Constitution they are theoretically sworn to defend. How do they explain such theft to their own children?
With an annual budget of $2,000,000,000, DEA employs 11,000 people, about 5,000 of whom are “special agents”. It costs the agency about $100,000 to make each of its arrests, and stealing private property is only one of DEA’s many “gray areas”. Like other contemporary “law enforcement” agencies, DEA is known to fabricate evidence such as where an investigation actually began, which deprives the defendant of his right to know if other of his constitutional rights were also violated. This is often done to protect national defense “sources and methods” such as mass surveillance programs conducted by NSA. These state tricks jeopardize a defendant’s right to examine possible sources of exculpatory evidence such as biased witnesses, mistakes, entrapment or misinterpretation of “evidence”. If a defendant doesn’t know such methods were used, there is no way for him to defend himself against them. This places enormous power in the hands of government prosecutors who theoretically are bound by a whole library of constitutional law relating to alleged domestic criminal activity and the rights of defendants by enabling prosecutors to hide behind exceptional practices allowed in consideration of “national defense” against foreign enemies. The “trial” becomes a foregone conclusion for the state, which makes a mockery of our whole constitutional legal system. (See Footnote #1.)
(Left-wing California, for example, has a statute, in the altruistic name of “privacy”, that prohibits audio or video recordings of confidential conversations without both participants’ permission, but it’s ludicrous to believe that the government applies that law to itself. The law’s primary purpose is to inhibit investigative journalism of official corruption by allowing political prosecutors to apply the law selectively. Women have a “right of privacy”; men do not. Liberals do; conservatives don’t. Etc.. The 14th Amendment to the Constitution, of course, following earlier civil rights law guaranteeing that all people have rights equal to all citizens, ensures that no state can deny to any person within its jurisdiction “the equal protection of the laws”. Government prosecutors who violate this principle clearly are engaging in unconstitutional behavior. But they do it anyway. “I am special.” Might makes right is the credo of totalitarianism. It’s small wonder that so many young Americans have such a jaundiced view of how the “American system” actually works – after the Baby Boomers did their emotional thing for forty years.)
The “war against drugs” is enormously profitable indeed, for those “waging” it, which may be the reason why they never accomplish anything positive, decade after decade. Still, the huge amount of private property stolen from citizens vanishes behind the trillions of taxpayer dollars that have been poured down the bottomless pit called the “war on drugs” for the past half century. It’s just more Baby Boomer Brilliance; losers changing the rules to suit themselves. Just imagine all the uses that our society could have invested all that money for actually beneficial results – and still kept the people’s constitutional rights intact.
The Electoral College And The EU
Another good recent example of some wanting to change the rules are those who find fault with our Constitution’s Electoral College. This topic comes up whenever elections don’t go the way the rule-changing proponents want. Such people overlook the fact that America is a Republic, a federation of fifty semi-independent states, each with their own fully functioning government. (This is from where the term “federal” comes.) A decent analogy of this is what Europeans have been trying for decades to create with its European Union, a republic with 27 very different currently independent states. The idea is to get each of those states to voluntarily surrender a certain degree of their independence in order to achieve a certain degree of equity for all – under a single overarching governing body for greater strength and stability. That is a VERY difficult task. It has only one successful model in history. One big stumbling block for the EU is the size and power of its mind-boggling, and mind-numbing, bureaucracies – which often seems an end unto itself. But a main structural problem blocking full integration into a single effective government has stemmed from a lack of a mechanism to adequately accommodate the voice and votes of small states within the whole.
After all, how can anyone expect tiny Finland to surrender a significant degree of its independence to a federation overwhelmingly dominated by urban mega-states like Germany? Finland is actually a very large country, but it is populated by a small number of people, very many of whom make their livelihood by trying to make that land work for the good of their families and the state in a climate zone that significantly restricts such endeavors through big portions of the year. Germany’s land area is 138,000 square miles (357,00 sq km), while Finland’s land area, at 131,000 square miles (338,000 sq km), is only slightly smaller.
But, even though both are highly advanced societies, these are two very different countries. In the first place, each occupies quite different climate zones, each with their respective inherent benefits and detriments, and no form of government will ever change such realities. What does an auto-worker in Dusseldorf care about how Finland manages its forests? What does a Finnish farmer near Kuopio care about a movie lot worker in Munich? Such major human differences must be taken into account in order for Finland not to be sidelined to complete inconsequence by the self-interests of much larger urban states. Citizens of Tampere do not view the world in the same manner as those of Frankfurt, and the Finnish government in Helsinki must try to maintain a voice that has enough weight to be heard over that in Berlin – or Finland would never join the final union or remain in that union. Finnish citizens need assurances that their voices will be heard just as loudly as German citizens, even though their numbers are much smaller. A simple matter of popular vote certainly would never accommodate that. Germany has a population of 82,000,000, while Finland’s population is less than 5,500,000 – 15 times smaller. What would anyone running for top EU offices care about Finland or Finnish votes? Finland would be foolish to surrender her independence to a scheme so heavily weighted against her and her citizens – unless there was a way to enable a voice at least loud enough to be heard. A good example here is that both Finland and Germany have managed their own economies in a very responsible manner, while some other European states, both big and small, have not. Yet both Germany and Finland are being asked to help bail out less responsible members of the “euro zone”. Finland’s best play in this position is to fall in behind Germany’s position to increase its weight potential, and she is fortunate to still have a degree of independent flexibility to join a sort of coalition on this particular matter. But such coalitions don’t exist under a unified system based solely on popular voting.
The same challenges faced early Americans as they tried to come up with a way for the thirteen very different colonies – some urban, some rural – to join into some equitable union – one that allowed each citizen to have an equal voice, but would also allow each state to maintain an audible voice representing the state’s interests in the overall union. Over the past 235 years America has grown into a predominately urban country dominated by huge metropolitan areas concentrated mostly near the coasts, with far fewer people making their livelihoods trying to manage the vast middle of the country. And those on the coasts have no problem at all using their greater numbers to try dictating to those in the middle, using big herds to bully smaller herds far away. (One can easily imagine an explosive civil war the minute those smaller states became able to exercise their will on the huge coastal urban states. The self-serving “tyranny of the majority” is very easy and very inviting indeed; just don’t ever try reversing that game.)
Regional Differences Within The US Republic
Anyone who has lived in both environments cannot avoid being confronted by the differences in the ways the people in such various regions view the world. People in New York, for example, having already destroyed really huge portions of their own environment in order to construct huge concrete and steel mega cities have no problem viewing themselves as “nationalists” with a right to impose their views on protecting wild creatures like grizzly bears and wolves, building mammoth wind farms, damming rivers, managing vast forests, extracting mineral reserves, harvesting crops, raising cattle, etc. – 1500 miles (2400 km) away from them, in the back yard of “someone else”. Cell phone transceivers in cities disappear among tall buildings, but out west they rest atop big towers scarring pristine landscapes. City people would go into shock if the people on whom they wish to impose their views instead were able to reverse the situation on them. “Since humans inherently destroy the environment, there is now a population density building permit law in effect for Manhattan of 10,000 people per square mile of ground surface.” See? (The current population density of Manhattan is about 72,000/sq mi.) (See Footnote #2.)
Even within the one huge state of Montana there are big differences. I happen to love the lone wolves who occasionally wander through my yard or howl from a ridge above at night, but then I don’t work from dawn to dusk raising and caring for farm animals that often fall prey to those wolves, so I can easily find myself at friendly odds even with neighboring ranchers, and each of us for quite good but different reasons. (Wolves are formidable hunter-predators, and although they instinctively shy away from humans, even bears won’t take them on. A single alpha-male adult wolf can bring down animals as huge as buffalo, so cattle and even horses are vulnerable to a pack, not to mention trained domestic dogs and smaller farm animals.) The same applies to stealthy mountain lions, which, like bears, also have no reservations at all about viewing even big humans as lunch.
In most such cases I do understand both sides, but I tend to side viscerally against those sitting safely on the sidelines 1500 miles (2400 km) away. It’s possible to drive from one corner of the state of Montana to an opposite corner of the same state in two days; the trip would cover 800 miles (1290 km). Driving from Chicago to Washington DC would cover 100 miles (160 km) less, even though that route crosses five states. But the population of the Montana state is about 990,000 – about the size of San Jose, the 10th largest US city. The population in the Chicago-Washington multi-state corridor is over 80 times larger than in the one state of Montana.
“The great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Americans have a certain self-centered tendency to believe that “everyone thinks just like me.” This becomes even more so as social media tends to gather people into huge herds, all of a similar mind, constantly feeding and reinforcing their own beliefs into one vast “mentality” ever more exclusive of differing views. Such herds naturally become ever more intolerant of opposing views, resulting in really huge numbers of people who think they have cornered “universal truth” and thus have a “right” to impose their “truth” on others. I can assure them that this is definitely NOT the case. Those Third World people you see speaking English into the news camera are almost always from that country’s top privileged class, the less than 5% who are “connected” urban people able to maintain a relatively decent lifestyle and to get an education, including instruction in the English language. They have been able to do this by taking advantage of a system that keeps the table tilted in their favor – at the expense of others in their own country. Despite a popular belief in “American homogeneity”, this arrogant belief is not even true among various regions of their own country, in America. Here are just a few examples.
Most of Earth’s people, when they think of America, envision New York City, or Las Vegas, or Hollywood, maybe San Francisco – where every convenience imaginable is within a easy stroll or a five-minute drive. But such mega-cities are only a small part of the story. For every election I travel to vote in the chapel of a small town over twenty miles away from my home, and, although most of the volunteer election officials know who I am, I am proud to show them my (1) voter registration card, (2) driver’s license, and (3) military ID card – to demonstrate in a very tiny way that I have, in fact, earned my right to vote for my entire life.
People look at where I live and assume that I’m rich – “The American Dream”. Reasonably attractive, spacious and well maintained, my home is not bad for a life-long professional soldier whose early pay checks were well below poverty level. But I didn’t buy my house, and I didn’t inherit it, either. I bought a piece of untouched remote land forty years ago and over the subsequent years purchased, piece by piece whenever I could, what I needed to build the road, clean up the land, bring in the utilities, construct the house and garage, and pave the lengthy driveway, myself. And each improvement and upgrade meant higher tax and insurance costs. For most of my life before I moved in and “set up house”, my address had been overseas military post office boxes that changed every one-to-three years. Today I couldn’t afford to buy my own home. It IS “The American Dream”. And, as had always been the case with “The American Dream”, it took a LOT of planning, learning, labor, sacrifice, forethought, patience, and perseverance, for a very long time, in a country that offered constant rules and rights and responsibilities.
Still, I live, in a quite nice home I designed myself, where the closest police officer is 35 miles away, so I know that the earliest help with bad guys is at least an hour away. This is also the distance neighbor kids ride the bus to and from school, for an hour (if a vehicle accident or a snowdrift hasn’t blocked the two-lane highway out in the middle of nowhere). Getting my snail mail involves my making a fifteen mile trip once or twice a week, weather conditions permitting. I pay really high homeowner’s insurance because my insurance company knows that my home will be burned to the ground before the first fire truck shows up – to use my water well, with a pump 450 feet down dependent on electricity which I bought in at my own expense. In addition to the well and septic system, I also had to lay beside the electricity cable a separate telephone cable, both underground, some considerable distance across some rather difficult timbered terrain. Out of range of local television broadcasts and cable systems, I am solely dependent on satellite TV. If I injure myself with a chainsaw, I know that I may very well die before medical attention can reach me. When the mountain winds blow a big tree over onto a power line somewhere out there, I know that it can be anywhere from a few hours to several days before I have, not only electricity, but also water, heat, sewage, TV, the internet, security system, etc.. When winter quickly dumps four feet of snow, I know that no public servant will ever come to plow the mile of road out to the highway. No one is going to come and pick up my trash and save me a twenty mile trip. No one is going to show up to repair a broken water line, fix the sewer, remove a bear or mountain lion from my back yard. There are no taxis or busses or pizza delivery within thirty miles. If I run out of gas I know that it can take me many hours of hiking over rugged wilderness terrain to reach a gas station, and return. When I get called to federal jury duty it means a 110 mile trip before dawn every morning, and the same trip back after dusk in the evening.
Most people don’t realize how expensive it is for a small rural population to maintain emergency rescue services for naïve urban tourists who underestimate the extremely unforgiving geography where I make my home. One of us, who made a fortune as a very astute venture capitalist in Silicon Valley after graduating from Stanford, recently presented a brand new top-of-the-line Bell 429 helicopter to the county rescue service at no cost to taxpayers. The bird, tricked out with all the extra bells and whistles, cost him over $5,500,000, and would have required yet another “special” tax levy on all property owners. He now has a second one in the pipeline for an adjacent county’s rescue service. Such volunteer rescue services cover mountainous areas that are as large as some New England states and frequently involve very dangerous missions. (Still, those helicopters will require expensive fuel, maintenance and repairs to keep them flying when needed. Fortunately the population of Montana also enjoys the nation’s highest percentage of people with military experience, smart people with a lot of extra training who actually embrace the concept of voluntary service to community. A lot of them were trained by the US Army as helicopter pilots, medics, long-range recon experts, military police, special operations soldiers, etc..) Of the 388 community or county fire departments in Montana, 374 are staffed by volunteers; almost all of them double as quick response (rescue) medical services. (There are separate groups, with different organization, equipment, tactics and technology, dedicated to fighting big wildfires in vast federal and state forests.) It would not be smart for a bad guy to make the usual judgments about anyone in Montana.
My constant nightmare is that some city tourist will make a simple mistake that sets off a raging wildfire in a poorly managed and dying nearby national forest – that could easily destroy my own property. (Around 85% of wildfires are started by humans.) In just one year, 2012, American taxpayers were charged $580 Billion to fight wildfires in the US, mostly in the West, and that doesn’t include the billions of dollars worth of many hundreds of square miles of lost timber (which naturally increases the cost of things like new homes). Believe it or not, that sum is equal to the annual budge of the US Defense Department! Fighting wildfires is one Really Big Government Business – which produces nothing. It is extremely dangerous work, but, essentially, it just takes money from some people and gives it to others, producing nothing of value in the process. You would think that it would be much wiser to spend that money, over a half Trillion dollars every year, on properly managing those forests so they grow healthy and far less susceptible to wildfire, steadily reducing the costs of fighting fires while steadily increasing the marketable resources available to the nation, but that would be the intelligent thing to do. With city dwellers who know nothing about strangling arid forests making emotional decisions 2,000 miles away in Washington, Americans end up doing really stupid things with their nation’s vast natural treasures, including the most precious resource of all – water. Of course, it’s not just timber and wildlife that gets lost in wildfires; those forests are also critical to the nation’s watershed, but only if there’s considerable living vegetation in the forests. (Also, just one acre of a healthy mature forest can remove 30,000 pounds of carbon dioxide from Earth’s atmosphere while emitting 22,000 pounds of oxygen each year; the natural work of that one acre is sufficient to negate emissions from 2.7 cars, but there are many tens of millions of unhealthy forest acres out there, gradually falling victim to carbon-emitting wildfires.) Whoever in government far away “back east” is responsible for managing the nation’s federal forests and water sheds “out west” is just brain-dead stupid.
Urban dwellers just love to declare vast expanses of land thousands of miles away as “federal” property – which becomes a place on a map they may visit once in a lifetime and, as another of their “rights”, treat just like their own city neighborhoods – with graffiti, trash, destruction, pollution and defilement – for “someone else” to fix and clean up as best as they can. But just try establishing a city dump anywhere within fifty miles of their own neighborhoods. (And, for the record, when you use a $2,000 rifle with a $2,000 telescopic sight from the running board of a $75,000 SUV to shoot a deer in someone’s pasture … you are NOT hunting.)
The Rocky Mountains of northwest Montana, where my home is, are certainly no easy-living locales, but, of all Americans, I reserve my greatest respect for those hardy souls who make their living on America’s big ranches and farms on the northern Great Plains, especially in winter. Really vast expanses of eastern Montana, the Dakotas and Nebraska (and central Canada) – North America’s Siberia – can easily be the most brutal and deadliest environments on Earth during winter, but they produce much of what keeps everyone in all those mega-cities alive. And I never forget that Calgary, in Canada’s Alberta province, is 200 miles north of me, and there are more people in that one city than in the entire state of Montana, which is 462 times larger.
These and many similar realities of life affect the way I think about normal everyday things, how I plan, remain vigilant, “do it myself”, think ahead, maintain fallback reserves for contingencies, ensure my independent survival, and all of that affects the way I view the world, including government, decide what’s important and what’s just unnecessary fluff, which tasks paid for by “someone else” are just hand-holding for spoiled-helpless grown-up children.
As you can probably imagine, I tend to have minimum sympathy with city whiners. Despite what you may think, as a guy who once owned a nice home in the Maryland suburbs of Washington DC, where everything a family could possibly need was no more than ten minutes away – on foot – I can attest that my costs, including taxes, in Montana are considerably higher. There are far fewer people here paying for needed things like schools and police and roads, so we tend to take a lot closer look at what’s going on, especially with government. And, yes, government runs the same tricks and scams here as everywhere else, just on a smaller scale – which disproportionately affects those with residential real estate property and steady middle class incomes more than anyone else. The best compensated labor sector in Montana, which has one of the lowest per capita incomes in the nation, is, in fact, government, including those employed in education. (Next comes that heavily government subsidized and equally obscenely expensive health care industry.) The only places where there are pre-school, after-school, day care or library programs are in towns with large numbers of people employed in the government and health care industries, and much of their costs are paid by taxpayers living 30 to 100 miles away and therefore can’t use them. And, yes, single people with nice homes and steady incomes pay a much higher share of taxes to pay for that government than anyone else. (See Footnote #3.) One of the aggravating aspects of living where I do is the number of folks who move in from cities they grew to hate on the left coast, and who then set about creating here the same socialist nanny state they fled. Some nitwits, with nothing better to do, just can’t leave “well enough” alone, just have to “fix” what isn’t broken, to have government assume responsibility for the irresponsible choices of childish citizens, to buy their votes with other people’s money. For all those taxes sent off to government year after year I receive almost nothing in return except higher out-of-pocket costs; I am that “someone else” everyone expects to take the blame, pay the bills and do the hard stuff. Government takes a really huge chunk of my income, and delivers almost nothing in return, so my confiscated loss is someone else’s redistributed gain, decade after decade. Still, these are “the rules of the game”, and no one is forcing me to live where I do; I pay the costs of my own choices, my own behavior.
Still, when you look at the night sky, you can see dozens of stars. When I look at the night sky, I can see millions of stars. And I can see them even when sneaking a smoke on the deck free of even a tiny hint of another human-made sound, with the Moon’s bright light reflecting off a huge pristine lake below. There’s something to be said for not having to live among huge herds dictating how I live my life, what I’m supposed to think, what I value. Here at least I can be my own person. I may not have readily available services at my immediate beck and call in Montana, but, on the other hand, whenever I visit places like New York City, I can’t shake a mental imagine of a gigantic noisy, smelly ant hill of whiny, helpless, fearful creatures pretending to be human, and failing. Some ant hills just get too big and too suffocating for actual human habitation. It may take me quite a while to drive to the closest big town, but it takes a big-city dweller just as long to go a much smaller distance. (And, best of all, out here no one is blaming me for the consequences of their own choices, their own behavior, or expecting me to fix all their own problems. I’ve been doing that stuff every day of my life, and now I like to kick back whenever I can and just live my own life without having to endure nauseating petty whines and blustery boob nonsense and similar fake-human tricks, in America.)
Very few could have lived the life I have, but just about any American, man or woman, could have built what I did, easier. The single difference was that my race, gender, sexual orientation, lack of wealth – ALL such superficial labels – never granted me any excuses for NOT succeeding, on my own. As a guy who spent most of his life in foreign environments where he was always the outsider, I know the importance of learning and mastering the local rules and fitting in. It’s not easy, but neither is Real Life. In America no one is forcing anyone to do anything, and the rules are fairly constant. Here Real Life for grown up adults is an endless series of compromises, of trade-offs, while playing within the rules. Even in America, you CAN’T “have it all”. You can only have what you gain by your own choices, your own behavior, based on what you value most. I acquired my values from my Greatest Generation Irish-American dad during the first decade of my life, and those values served me well. Now men like me are fading fast, but we never did exist solely to kiss every ass with a whine. Women can have the twisted freaks they and their mothers chose to create in their own perfect image to replace us. All I can offer is my hope that future women can pay the very steep price for such choices and still keep the boat afloat.
So, the things that interest me and my Montana neighbors are not always the same things that interest people on Park Avenue or K Street. I really don’t care one bit about the “Women’s Whine Of The Week”, and I don’t know anyone who does. With presidential candidate politics, we tend to focus on things that are different even from those of interest to considerably closer Seattle voters. My state happens to have the highest per capita in the country of citizens with military experience (along with one of the lowest per capita incomes), so most of its citizens have a different view about the military, foreign affairs, taxes, national defense, etc., than do those with no such experience who view the military as their dumb trained dogs. A lot of the things big-city “experts” say about such matters may sound appropriate to them, but it makes very little sense to those with actual real world experience. Most pontificating politicians talk about such things as if it were still 1975 and they are using the answers they memorized to pass a high school test. Besides, you won’t find another guy with the tickets I’ve earned among any 250,000 of your big city dwellers, and I just cringe whenever I hear some of that political nonsense based on premises that haven’t been revisited for the past forty years. Most of my neighbors don’t make much noise, but despite what many people on both coasts often convey, they are just as knowledgeable as those in Washington on a very wide range of topics, and they usually have taken more time to research and contemplate those topics independent of herds. (And because we have so few people, the few whackos among us are more likely to come to public attention, especially via a superficial media that loves to focus on that sort of inanity. Not much human nuttiness happens out here, so the little of what does happen has a natural tendency to get blown way out of proportion.)
All of this is part and parcel of the workings of human diversity. My neighbors are Americans, but they are quite different from Americans in Brooklyn or Malibu even though they are just as smart and educated as urban Americans. The people who finally were able to come up with a set of rules to accommodate such diversity of interests and geography sufficiently for the individual colonies – and their citizens – to join in a republican federation eventually concluded that the Senate was not quite enough – especially in situations decided solely by a national popular vote. The same is true of Finnish citizens vis-à-vis German citizens within a united Europe. Why would the citizens of Finland even bother to vote in a continental popular election if their vote is simply going to vanish beneath the Germany vote? Which candidate would ever even bother to visit Finland, to learn what its concerns are? We already have a similar situation today concerning even minority American men, who have become largely irrelevant to elections now decided by a super-majority of women voters interested only in themselves. (See “Premises And Conclusions“, posted separately.)
The only way for democratic societies to maintain themselves and move forward is if equitable compromises are reached among self-interests for the net benefit of all – without marginalizing any party. The very first requisite for such compromises is acceptance of the fact that all rights come with corresponding responsibilities. The second requisite is that the net benefit must be perceived as equitable by and for all parties. The third requisite is acceptance that there are limits to the degree that self-interests can be surrendered beyond which compromise is impossible. Sometimes it’s necessary to remind folks that everyone does NOT think just like “very special me”, that others DO have very good reasons for thinking in a different way about the same subjects. In negotiation, if you push your own position too far, you will only defeat yourself. No one anywhere likes a bully dictator, no matter how nicely the bullying is imposed. Eventually you will make an enemy – which, of course, is just stupidly counter-productive. American women, never challenged and never expected to do anything, today are rapidly reaching such a point.
It also might be helpful to remember from time to time that America itself is the result of a revolution, of Englishmen – against other Englishmen – which then had to survive another revolution, of Americans – against other Americans. As an Irish-American, I know that it’s also a good idea to periodically re-visit our foundation and determine if it’s still solid enough to support the superstructure. In our exceedingly complex society we have many gigantic structures of heavy concepts that are based on specific premises; just as with skyscrapers, it is prudent to periodically re-examine those handful of pillars upon which everything else is constructed – preferably BEFORE it all collapses. The American Declaration of Independence proclaims “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. … That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government,…” I, too, am one of the People. Every demand that you place on me to ensure your rights comes with a corresponding responsibility to reciprocate in kind to me. Don’t talk to me about your rights unless you are equally prepared to talk about your corresponding responsibilities.
How It Works
So the Continental Congress in America invented the Electoral College as a way to provide some mechanism within the Constitution to better accommodate such human diversity based on state or regional differences in national popular elections. Its Constitutional Convention in 1787 wrestled with many aspects of the problem, including the “voting weight” of slaves. Delegates from the small states generally favored the Electoral College out of concern that the large states would otherwise control presidential elections, and their concerns eventually carried the day. It was America’s first successful defense against the “tyranny of the majority” – which many saw as being every bit as undesirable as the “tyranny of the monarchy”. It was this thinking, enshrined in the nation’s Basic Law, that subsequently led to many legal bans on select group discriminations, including the banning of slavery in America and the nationally recognized legal right of all women to vote – regardless of the will of the majority. It is the constitutionality of effective constraints on “tyranny of the majority” that forms the very foundation of our civil rights – civil rights that are equally applicable to every single one of us. It is NOT as simple as “majority rule”. (The rise of political parties in America soon complicated the process, but there is nothing in the Constitution requiring political parties, and certainly nothing that limits political parties to just two approximately equal behemoths, which inevitably results in a childish “we versus them” dynamic.)
Standing far above politics is The Law. Despite the delusions of many, there is no such thing as a civil right just for “me” and “my group”; anyone who decides to dream up a new civil right for themselves has to understand that their right, if ever enshrined in law, will be applied equally under that law to every member of our society. For example, once a few American women win the “right” to serve in ground combat roles, minority American men will eventually use the Constitution’s civil rights protection against select group discrimination via “tyranny of the majority” to overturn the ban on women registering for the Draft, which will make all American women eligible for equitable conscription into ground combat service – where over 98% of combat casualties occur. This will be the first instance in American history where all women, like men, will finally be required to accept a responsibility with a claimed right. Most women support the right of some women to serve in ground combat roles, but very few women support the responsibility of all women to be eligible for conscription into such roles. This is an excellent example of “rights” and “responsibilities”, and the self-serving interest of a “tyranny of the majority” which dictates that only males should die in the nation’s wars. Isn’t it nice to be able to pick and chose the rights you like, while rejecting the responsibilities you don’t? This is a fundamental flaw in the nation’s K-12 “education” industry, too, but that’s not the only industry with such flaws. Women and their many powerful lobbies have been complaining incessantly for over a half century about their quota share of nice jobs in businesses, but definitely not about their quota share as creators of businesses with tens of thousands of jobs for everyone. With very favorable loan and tax benefits, women overwhelmingly dominate in “small business”, well over 80% of which are one-person enterprises with zero intention of growing. Less than 2% of the millions of small businesses ever grow to appreciable company size. Are such “tyranny of the majority” rights really justifiable? There is no “special” in equal, and this basic fact applies also to the states.
The mechanism that enabled the original colonies to sign on to a United States allocated to each state a number of “electoral votes” representing the sum of each state’s number of senators and representatives in Congress – making the election of President dependent on winning a majority of those “electoral votes”. Since each state has two senators, and representatives are allocated according to population, in the overwhelming majority of cases a state’s electoral votes goes to the presidential candidate winning that state’s popular vote. (In a few cases, by state decision, the electoral votes are split proportionally according to each presidential candidate’s popular votes.) The electoral college consists of 538 votes (the number of elected people in the Senate (100) and the House (438)); a simple majority of 270 is needed to win, but in presidential elections it now takes over 130,000,000 million people casting their popular votes to win those 270 or more electoral votes. Each of those electoral votes is important; thus each state has some importance, some actual relevance, in national elections. Small states are ignored at a candidate’s own peril.
Really huge Montana, with its small population, gets only three of those electoral votes (two senators and one representative), but at least those three votes have sufficient weight among just 270 to earn some measure of candidate attention, rather than just being summarily dismissed as of zero consequence.
Very rarely has a presidential candidate won the popular national vote but not the electoral college vote. Three of only four such instances happened over 125 years ago, and were all due to unique circumstances beyond the electoral college. On the one other occasion, in 2000, the popular vote difference was very small – less than .05% of the popular vote (544,000 out of 101,456,000), and the loser lost by only two electoral votes. (See Footnote #4.) This clearly indicates that the loser could have won the electoral vote with just a little more effort in only one small state – which, of course, was the whole idea behind the electoral college anyway. Failure to make that little extra effort, and losing the electoral vote, has led to all sorts of complaints blaming the system, rather than the candidate. When you look closer, with dispassionate objectivity, you see that it’s just the usual blame-shifting. (A similar quirk happened in 2016, with the losing candidate winning the popular vote, but loosing the electoral college vote by a really large margin – which can only indicate arrogance on the part of the loosing candidate, who simply failed to make the requisite minor effort in states she presumed were hers for the taking, relying far too much on one group – women – to carry her onto the throne as her “right”. With all the enormous benefits on her side, the only objective thing that can possibly explain her failure to secure an “easy” election was arrogance. Where does such arrogance originate in a democracy supposedly based on the principle of “all equal under the law”? See “Blaming The Messenger“.)
The Electoral College is not simply a “rural versus urban” thing. It is also a “natural human diversity” thing, and it has worked fairly well for a very long time in such a huge and diverse and ever-changing republican federation. It also worked sufficiently well for an additional 37 states to join that federation over the next 200 years – and to remain. Without the Electoral College, what would any presidential candidate care about Montana voters? Nothing. Since they can be so easily swamped by just one large metropolitan area, their votes just wouldn’t matter. They wouldn’t count. Hard-working Montanans deserve to have national politicians competing for their votes, listening to their concerns, too. Eventually the European states trying to craft a union will also come to realize that there is considerable merit in an “electoral college” mechanism, and that the real key is to learn the rules, master the process, and then win the game, within the system. (Very diverse India, plus France and Ireland, have similar mechanisms, as do a number of other nation states.)
There are, of course, all sorts of proposed alternatives to the electoral college out there. But there are also a few astute observers who suspect that all the discussion over the electoral college is just another smoke screen generated by smart women – whose votes have decided all elections in America since 1980. Since it is not possible for men voters to overcome the women’s vote, all election campaigns concentrate on winning (or buying) the women’s vote, and this concentration is significantly greater than any concentration on the electoral college (or on men voters for that matter).(See “Premises And Conclusions”.)Many women, forever demanding rights but never mentioning responsibilities, and rights always at “someone else’s” expense, would prefer to divert public attention away from such voter realities, and the electoral college, not adequately understood by so many, makes an easy patsy for that slick diversion.
Still, people always want to change the rules when the rules no longer serve them so well. Now we hear rumblings about women deciding it’s time to “do away with” Title IX of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Title IX, of course, is universal civil rights law applicable to both genders throughout all of American education, K though post-graduate school. It was enacted to ensure that equality in academic results was achieved and maintained throughout all of taxpayer-funded education in America. So women, after 40 years of using that law for everything it was possible to get out of it for themselves, now decide it’s time to chuck the whole thing – and deny the same civil rights to the other half of our population? “Let’s change the rules! Now that we’ve milked that cow for all WE could get out of it, let’s get rid of it before someone else has a chance to even up the score.” (It’s actually nearly impossible to get more myopically and arrogantly self-involved than this presumption of “group entitlement“, and pretend that this civil rights law, applicable to children, absurdly applies only to sports programs.) There’s that ugly “tyranny of the majority” again, now on the other foot.
Recently we’ve also even heard similar rumblings about denying states with small populations their Constitutional allocation of two senators each, or granting big states more senators. Such notions, of course, based on a third-grade understanding of American democracy, are nothing but feints toward a despicable “tyranny of the majority”. It’s the same tyranny that enabled the British aristocracy to turn the Irish into their own serfs via “plantations” while robbing their country blind and selling those serfs as slaves to Caribbean plantations owned by other “entitled” nobility classes. It’s the same tyranny that enabled the privileged upper classes in the American plantation South, descendants of that British privilege, to own slaves – in America. It’s the same tyranny of the majority that enables America’s “special” women to impose their majority will on everyone else while avoiding their just share of the responsibility. Not surprisingly, such notions also win ready favor among our privileged “academic class”, safely ensconced in the utopia of very comfortable socialism via “tenure” on America’s campuses. It also wins ready favor among those recent immigrants whose membership in ruling castes or tribes in their home countries ensured them the privilege, wealth and education that enabled them to arrive in America and quickly assume positions at or near the top. But it’s also helpful to consider that it’s a lot easier for such emigrants to run away to America, where most of the problems were fixed by America’s Greatest Generation and earlier ancestors, than it is to stay in, or return to, their home country and fix the reasons why they fled. So America may be getting just the most privileged cowards – a group already existing in truly great abundance in America, who impose their will on others simply by making self-serving demands. It’s the supremely arrogant mind-set that screams “I am special; you must bow to my will!” that resulted in the American Revolution and the creation of the United States of America, that caused the American Civil War, that was the reason why so many millions of American men fought in deadly wars all over the world during the past two and a half centuries. These are the same “special” bullies who condemn boy bullies on the playground. Bullies don’t just use brute violence; many use brute politics to achieve even worse results. (See “Bullies“, posted separately.)
Of course, it works best if the victims of all this arrogant tyranny do not have very powerful and vocal lobbies to champion their own group. Such unchampioned minority groups are easy targets for the majority “group think”, the herd mentality – damned civil rights, damned history, damned what’s right, just and equitable. “It’s all about “me” and what “I” want, now! Screw anyone who doesn’t agree.” Those with the biggest and loudest lobbies have no problem at all with imposing their will on others; they just object vehemently if someone tries that crap with them. It’s far easier to force your will than it is to reach intelligent compromises that equitably accommodate everyone. Just take a look at the state of America’s boys today. Our Constitution actually has many built-in mechanisms to help overcome the very real likelihood of oppression of minorities, of weaker others, including smaller states (and boys), by “tyranny of the majority” – provided the victims make use of those mechanisms. Such mechanisms are part of the beauty of American law, but laws are only as good as they are held constant and enforced. For the Court to decide, it must be presented with a case by someone with standing in that case. If no one with standing steps forward, then the Court cannot act, cannot decide. In our society, it takes a lobby to step forward, so it’s indeed “fortunate” that boys have no lobby.
Never ever trust anyone who discusses Constitutional law only in terms of rights, which is very common among women and recent bright immigrant scholars; they are almost always trying to shift responsibility for those rights to “someone else” – and without a full understanding and appreciation of the society they seek to re-engineer. (“I have rights; I do NOT have responsibilities. Everyone else has the responsibility of ensuring whatever rights I decide to demand for “me”.” Yeah, right. And do those with the responsibility parts have any rights of their own? How about a right to tell you to stop imposing your self-serving views on them?) Severely twisted “feminists” are now even demanding that everyone else compensate women for their own free choices, their own elective behavior, even as everyone else has already picked up huge portions of the costs of their parental responsibilities; there is no more obscene sense of birthright entitled nobility than that. No one is forcing American women to do anything; there is zero reason why they are not paying their own full costs for whatever they choose to do in life. Even Lucy was never so ugly and offensive, even to born-sucker Charlie Brown.
Eventually, with such self-interested “thinking”, you are left with a total mess of a million rights and no one with responsibility for ensuring, defending, financing, etc., all those rights. In the minds of such people, with almost nothing of value invested in their society, America, with all its bountiful gifts, was created by God just for “me” immediately before “my” miraculous arrival, and centuries of great struggles by actual humans did not go into building it, piece by piece, and will also be required for as long as that society is able to continue its existence. The first thing I want to do with such “elitists” is inform them that their very cushy position has been eliminated but that the city will help them get a nice job as a skyscraper steel welder, which will just barely enable them to raise three kids and pay enough taxes to fund ten cushy jobs that were not eliminated – after, of course, they finish a three-year hitch with the US Army in the Sahara. It’s amazing how such realities of Real Life can alter Ivory Tower views. If the US Constitution is so “flawed”, why has no other society come up with something better over the past two or three hundred years, including those societies such immigrant scholars left behind? America offers opportunity; it does NOT offer a free ride. If anyone wants to tinker around with the US Constitution, the sole place to start is with a Bill Of Responsibilities.
And it might just be prudent to consider that there are those of us out there who have definite limits to how far we are willing to be bullied by the “tyranny of the majority”, before we undertake alternative approaches to “equity”. My right to pursue “happiness” is no less important than yours.
More Important Rules To Consider
Those who find fault with the way our government works today always want to blame it on “the Constitution”. It’s sort of like city people proclaiming to country hicks, “Ok, now that we suckered you guys into the league, we’re going to change the rules of the game.” But is “the Constitution” just too simplistic a bogyman? Perhaps we might take a closer look at how we operate within that Constitution today. Could some of our problems be the rules and practices crafted by the hegemony of a two-party political system paying homage to interest groups and lobbies that are the real culprit? The Constitution allows for such operating rules to be made, and changed, within the Constitution. That is also part of its beauty. But it is not “the fault” of the Constitution.
Immigrants, with a different frame of reference, have great difficulty understanding the enormous power of lobbies in our contemporary society and tend to believe that it was always intended that way. (Social interest group lobbies are considerably more powerful than commercial industry lobbies because they not only deliver huge amounts of campaign funds, but also really huge numbers of votes.) But actually the original idea was that the adherents of such interest groups would come together to create public political parties and run openly for election under that party’s platform, not lurk around in the background cowardly pulling strings with huge amounts of money and votes with proxy politicians. THAT is where corrective action is needed – with our permanently stalemated two-party system that very effectively excludes interlopers (other parties) while operating more on behalf of lobbies than on behalf of the nation and all of its citizens. The Constitution does NOT mandate only two political parties, and other democracies with many parties actually do a better job with democracy than we do. (A positive sign was the 2016 election campaign, in which the winning candidate had to run against BOTH political parties to win, even though one of those parties is operating under the illusion that the winner is “one of us”. He most definitely is not.)
In fact, the United States is the only democracy in the world that stupidly limits itself to just two stale behemoth political parties, and these two have succeeded in reducing matters of grave national concern to the level of a silly game wherein “my side wins and your side loses”. With such supremely juvenile nonsense, with all the playground name-calling and lies and propaganda, only the nation and our children are the real losers. And, of course, the future. The United States is the most powerful nation on the planet, both militarily and economically, and it is made up of citizens from every other country on that planet; where is it written that only the members of these two very old establishment political institutions possess all the wisdom and intelligence and talent and insight necessary to properly guide such a nation and its additional role as “guide to the world”? Everyone knows exactly where each of the two sides stands (and the real differences between the two are almost impossible to discern), so debating any issue requires almost no intellectual capacity. Mindless automatons can simply recite their respective memorized dogma, with the required rhetoric, which, obviously, just about any idiot can do. And the result is always equally as unenlightened, inept, and embarrassing.
Since the rise of the spoiled and childish Baby Boomers, American politics has regressed into little more that a two-team competition between equally strong teams each made up of their respective interest groups, not so different from the Yankees and Mets with players purchased from everywhere, except that there are no other teams in the league. So it’s the only game in town, with operating rules set solely by these two very powerful teams to their own advantage, to maintain their own dominance, or at least keep them in relative balance. In such an environment citizens tend to focus on minutia, on ever smaller details, even on the totally frivolous or irrelevant, rather than stepping back and taking in the larger arena. It’s like a dogmatic tug-of-war, with each side dedicated to not giving one inch, and almost always on the most inane of “issues”passionately “debated” by those bereft of any real capacity for intelligent reasoning. In that environment, with no insider playing honest broker helping to reach adult compromise, or to try different approaches, citizens are much more susceptible to manipulation by political “spin” and outright lies defaming “the other side”. Some Americans, like me, who take their voting right very seriously, are often confronted with a conundrum when neither party presents candidates actually worthy of their votes. Sometimes a thinking man might like to have the option of voting for a third or fourth viable party just to send a strong message to both behemoths. Intelligent people might try to see if there’s a way to make it work better by tinkering with the operating procedures, rather than just childishly changing the rules of the game. How about increasing the size of the league? When you add a third or fourth or fifth public political party to the Congressional mix, each with some appreciable degree of strength, you dramatically alter the operating procedures, create a situation that requires coalitions, enable smaller parties to exert influence in order to facilitate actual motion, perhaps even encourage far better people to run for office. It’s much more difficult for political parties to misrepresent the truth in a childish “he said, she said” debate when there are other teams right there on the field watching.
Political campaigns in America have become incredibly expensive, which actually benefits media outlets and “marketing” companies much more than it does the populace. Only the two big teams can afford such exorbitant costs, a realty that effectively excludes other would-be teams. We have a mechanism that sets aside taxpayer funds for the use by individual presidential candidates if they wish. Perhaps we can set up a similar mechanism to help fund new political parties that can meet a certain minimum voter support level, say 3% (today about 4,000,000 votes). The so-called “Blue Dog Democrats” might be one good foundation for such a new political party, one that would finally enable Congress to make headway against our enormous debt. The Tea Party movement might be another. Or a union of both groups. How about an honestly labeled “Urban Women’s Party”, a “Senior’s Party”, a “Small Business Party”, or a “Main Street Party”? It’s unlikely, however, that the two current parties would embrace such an idea, and the Constitution does not provide for a national referendum (proposed laws originating directly from the people) at the federal level, so the challenge for bright young people would be to craft a way within the Constitution, probably within Congress, to accomplish such a significant change in the political landscape – without changing the Constitution. Maybe this is an area where brilliant immigrants with fresh ideas could better focus their attention, rather than simply changing the rules by simple-mindedly eliminating the electoral college or withdrawing senators from small states.
There are also other ways to “fix” some of our political “problems” without tinkering with the Constitution. After forcing special interest lobbies (and their votes and money) out of the shadows and opening the field to more political parties, we might take a look at that “responsibility” thing. The easiest things to find in America are “rights”, but the hardest things to find are “responsibilities”. Lobbies are only interested in the former, and no one is eager to embrace the latter. So nothing gets done. It’s all about “me”. Everyone waits around for “someone else” to DO something, usually to benefit “me” and “my rights”. The nation desperately needs a way to break this asinine and self-destructing mindset. A truly universal draft of national service would accomplish that – to re-instill in all citizens that we are NOT a caste society, that we are NOT run by “elitists”, by “special” people, that EVERYONE has an equal stake and an equal responsibility in making it work, that there is no “special” in “equal” and no nobility in America. Requiring all adult citizens to serve their nation for two or three years of some drafted minimum-wage service would go far to re-instilling a sense of “us” in America.
Then there’s the matter of an educated populace. Perhaps the gravest danger to our democracy is our dismally poor education system. It’s bad enough that most of what Americans “know” is actually interest group propaganda, but very many immigrants come to America today with all the educational tickets they need to start at or near the top, and many of them do just that. They don’t have to take many generations to climb up, to become thoroughly “American”, to “marinate” in the culture, the history, the “system”, to fully understand and accept all the responsibility, the risks, the consequences of their actions at the top. In another post I mentioned very impressive Indian-American Editor-at-Large of Time magazine Fareed Zakaria, who grew up and attended schools in up-scale Mumbai before admission to Yale and then Harvard. With all his knowledge and brilliance he still evidences a certain textbook understanding of certain more subtle aspects of America, a certain top-down presumption that he probably would not have if he had grown up in Patna, India, struggled to reach America, and then worked his way up from the bottom in the US, perhaps even having served a tour in the US military, perhaps stood on the shoulders of his earlier-arrived parents. But when native-born Americans are not nearly as well equipped as such new arrivals, are not able to challenge their brilliance, to caution patience, to counsel fine-tuning of views, dangerous things can happen that affect all Americans, very quickly. (There are 78,000,000 homeless people in India, and it’s highly unlikely that Mr. Zakaria was ever one of them – or that any of them will ever reach America, even to start at the bottom.)
It is considerably easier for these recent immigrants, for example, working from the top of key sectors of the US, including inside the White House, to get dumb Americans to do things on behalf of the immigrants’ home countries or regions – which they were unable to get their home countries and regions to do for themselves, for a wide range of reasons. And in doing so, the first interests of such immigrants are not necessarily in synch with the best interests of the US and its citizens, who pay for it, risk the lives of their soldiers. The same applies to their ideas about how to “improve” the American “system”, “improvements” which they were unable to realize in their home countries. While the US desperately needs well-trained minds to compensate for its own poorly educated population, there is considerable inherent danger in not at least challenging the thinking of these recent immigrants before jumping on their bandwagon. And, no, it is NOT “anti-immigrant” or “xenophobic” or “jingoistic”, etc., to ask perfectly legitimate questions of, and expect completely full answers from, ANYONE, including well-educated immigrants, seeking to “change the rules” in America. No other country on the planet would be so stupid as to allow immigrants, including arrogant Americans, to come in and change the rules to suit themselves, to make things “better”. (For whom?) America is at least a million times more than anyone will ever learn from Hollywood movies, and it takes at least a lifetime or more to begin to get a decent handle on just key parts of it. (I’ve spent a lifetime as a national-level intelligence officer in the US Regular military, and I am still learning about it.) After all, let’s face it, if things go south here, such immigrants can always pack up and go back home, but the rest of us are stuck here holding the bag, picking up the pieces, dealing with the casualties. I admire the brilliant minds many of these immigrants bring to America, and their enthusiasm, too, but I am also a little fearful of not exercising some prudent caution, a slightly slower and more deliberate approach, a “seasoned” approach. And I worry a lot about the fact that our schools just teach everyone what to think, but not how to think.
America does not withhold any secrets about itself from the entire world. The country is quite simply the world’s most transparent glass house for all to see what’s inside, warts and all, well before they enter. But America belongs to Americans; it does not belong to anyone else. America does not force anyone to come and does not require anyone to remain. If those who do elect to come, knowing full well what America is well in advance of making their elective decision, arrogantly seek to change the rules after they arrive, then America will no longer be what attracted them in the first place. America is what it is quite simply because its people sought to make something very different from all the places they left, something unique and therefore special in the world. What sort of idiot would move to a place other than their home only to seek to turn that new place into what they ran away from? The only sensible question such behavior invites is, “Why didn’t you just stay home?” Besides, what gives anyone the right to demand immediate changes in a society well before they or their descendants have been around long enough to contribute anything worthwhile to what they want to change? Wherever did the asinine notion originate that people have all sorts of rights but no responsibilities? (Just because privileged self-serving American women believe such utter nonsense does NOT make it true. That lunacy is killing America. It will inherently kill anything it touches.) Where is my right to demand that you simply maintain what I and my ancestors worked so hard to make so inviting to you in the first place?
The absence of a solid set of constant basic laws applying equally to everyone and a strong legal system to ensure those principles remain constant happens to be the basic flaw in every one of the dozens of dysfunctional countries I’ve visited and studied over the past fifty years, including those in which violent conflict and civil war was always inevitable, such as Ukraine. This single factor is even more important than the economic standing of the country’s population. As long as people know that everyone is in the same balanced boat under one set of unchangeable rules for all, and that highly respected institutions will equitably enforce those rules, they are far more likely to work together to move everyone forward. Tilt the rules toward one group, or change the rules for some expediency, and all bets are off. (I would never waste my time with any country that fosters “special” castes, with two or more sets of rules.)
Leave the rules alone; if you cannot adjust to the same rules that have applied quite successfully by and to many hundreds of millions before you from every country on the planet, including all those who built, funded and defended with their blood, sweat and tears all that you found when you arrived, then you are also free to leave. At least earn your “right” to try imposing your will on me to suit yourself before you do so.
My experience has been that those who want to change the rules to favor themselves are just losers too lazy to measure up to their own capabilities and “beat the system”.
Make it work – for everyone.
(See “Blaming The Messenger“, posted separately.)
(See also “Only One Label Possible – War”, “Does Congress Understand The Military?”, and “The Constitution And The Military“, posted separately.)
Footnote #1. The FBI now has a facial database of over 30,000,000 police “mug shot” photos of American citizens, half of whom were involved in some sort of illegal drug activity. This does not include other databases of photos taken from driver’s licenses, visas and other travel documents. Then there are all those many millions of Americans who were granted photo identification cards as honorable members of the US military. Currently over half of all Americans are in a “law enforcement” database that can be searched by police super-computers using facial recognition software in citizen information centers as large as a city block. Most Americans don’t even know these things, much less have ever granted permission to include their photographs in some sort of government database. Most have never even thought to ask what sort of oversight mechanisms are in place to guard against misuse or mistakes, so it’s highly doubtful that either are subject to any kind of legal liability. Have you ever heard of a policewoman being fired for, or charged with, running an unauthorized “investigation” of some guy who just asked her for a dinner date? And yet those databases grow exponentially every day with shots taken of citizen pedestrians and drivers by thousands of police surveillance cameras in public places.
Then there are those billions of nitwits who post photos on their public Facebook or Google accounts, including photos of people who are not even members of those monstrous social herds and who never gave permission to post their photos; these people gave up their right of privacy, and the privacy rights of their friends and associates, and handed all that information gratis to a digital police state. Why? So they could sacrifice their individual humanity to become part of some brainless herd of sub-humans who gradually become less and less able to think for themselves?
If such things were not enough, we now have military agencies like the National Security Agency, which exists to keep tabs on foreign enemies, now providing civilian agencies like the FBI highly classified raw intelligence reports resulting from communications surveillance programs targeting certain classes of domestic criminal activity.
These days the first thing that comes to mind when I see an American police official is some creepy voyeur or stalker peeping in windows, all pumped up on the crutch of power that comes with insider gossip about others, plus a badge and a gun. It all immediately conjures up images of what it was like for an average person to live under Soviet communist bureaucrats in eastern Europe and Russia for most of the 20th century. So I avoid forming relationships with such people knowing that they will invariably query all those databases and end up knowing more about me than I know about me, and certainly enormously more than I know about them. Skin-crawling suspicion is hardly a basis for a healthy relationship.
A citizen can go to prison for lying to the FBI, but the FBI can and does lie to citizens with impunity. Chalk up another one for the self-anointed “special” people, in a society where “all equal under the law” is (theoretically) enshrined in a Constitution establishing rule “by and for” the citizens. In America, all you really need is a badge and a gun.
Footnote #2. To all you “enlightened” city dwellers: Along with those high crime rates and the enormous costs of public safety, recent studies have confirmed that even breathing city air can be hazardous to your health. Johns Hopkins says that inhaling fine particulates from car exhaust and power plants, even at “good” air quality levels, can damage the heart and lungs in the same way smoke from those “nasty” cigarettes does – by clogging arteries, increasing inflammation and raising heart rate and blood pressure – leading to increased heart attacks. And get this: Breathing the air inside buildings, where carbon dioxide is even higher, isn’t any better. As carbon dioxide increases, even at levels deemed safe for schools, reasoning, strategic thinking and leadership abilities worsen to astonishing degrees. Judging by the politicians their residents elect, maybe it’s time we just banned cities. The “tyranny of the majority” has had really great fun and enjoyed enormously lucrative benefits by ostracizing, vilifying, extorting and even criminalizing smokers. How about offering city dwellers an option of closing shop or spending a trillion dollars to clean up their own act? When I go to places like New York, I can’t hear myself think, and I don’t think anyone else can actually think, either. It’s all just one great big din of herd nonsense, signifying nothing.
One thing they don’t do in Montana is pollute the oceans. How many tons of plastics do you suppose the people of Los Angeles, or any of the mega-cities on the east and left coasts, dump into the Pacific, Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico every year? Maybe they ALL should pay a big extra tax every year that goes to The Ocean Cleanup, a crowd-funded group started by Boyan Slat, a 22 year old Dutch inventor who’s trying to actually do something about this truly massive, and shameful, problem created by spoiled city dwellers everywhere.
Footnote #3. State Battles. If you really want to see the “us versus them” phenomenon at work, just spend a few days in the Montana state legislature when it is in session, where battles rage continuously between urban and rural interests. A majority of the state’s small population lives in five or six small cities in the mountainous west that offer all sorts of modern government amenities, but the rest of the population occupies tiny towns and really vast expanses of rolling plains in the east where government amenities are nearly non-existent. Urban interests are always trying to get “someone else” to help pay for their amenities, and the rural interests are always resisting having to pay for amenities that don’t benefit them at all. Successive legislatures have been trying unsuccessfully for decades to come up with equitable ways to tax real estate, to allocate funds derived from natural resources, even to fund schools, plus an endless range of other issues from dividing up water rights to taxing cattle. The state Senate is the best place to achieve a measure of balance among those constantly competing interests. Otherwise that urban “tyranny of the majority” would quickly pull the rug out from under the very thing that defines Montana, that provides the state’s very viability – its agriculture and natural resource interests.
Similar battles rage even in much smaller areas inside Montana, where the “tyranny of the majority” is much easier to exert. Some of Montana’s counties are as large as some New England states, and they each have a “county seat” in a town located in the county. (By far the best compensated employment sector in Montana is comprised of local, state and federal government employees, including the vast “education” industry, and 98% of them congregate in county seats and in the state capital.) As a rural small landowner, I’ve been paying significant land and real estate taxes to my county seat for over thirty years, but I’ve never seen a dollar of those taxes come back to benefit my neighborhood – which is 40 miles from the county seat. Within 30 miles of where I live there is no police, no firemen, no emergency medical people, to snow plows, no street cleaners, no schools, no hospitals, no public transportation, etc., all of which are routine in the county seat town. So, not only do I pay high taxes, my costs, including for such things as homeowner’s insurance and gasoline, are significantly higher than they would be in town, too.
The county seat town has a small library which in recent times has essentially evolved into a free government after-school day care center, so the town’s residents had reached a point where they no longer wanted to pay for it and the steadily rising cost of five government employees (and their lucrative health and pension plans) plus several part-time government workers. But the town’s government employees, the chief beneficiaries of the “library”, engineered a referendum measure for the general election ballot to change the title of the library from a ‘town’ library to a ‘county’ library and to get all those people who did not reside in the town to help pay for it. This very significantly lowered the cost to the town’s residents, but also required a lot of people who didn’t benefit from the library to pay for it. Not surprisingly, on the basis of the town’s voter majority, the referendum passed. The only things that changed were the name of the library and its tax support base. The additional funding even allowed it to upgrade its equipment to better serve the town’s school kids – who apparently couldn’t get the same benefits from the tax-supported schools. But would you let your child miss the one-hour bus ride home to have a government worker help her with her homework after school – if it meant that each time it would cost you over an hour and a half of your time and about $15 of gasoline costs to make the dangerous nighttime 80 mile round trip to pick up the child yourself? That “tyranny of the majority” stuff can get really nasty sometimes. It’s what makes a perversion of American democracy.
(When I posed a series of written questions about the “library” that any responsible voter would ask, all I received was silence. This includes the library’s board of trustees and readers of the town’s newspaper. Obviously the answers were just too self-evident, too embarrassing, to warrant making the situation even more publicly apparent. Everyone in town knew that the whole charade was just morally reprehensible, but they certainly were not going to do anything to right their wrong.)
In America, when your spending habits get way out ahead of your income, you either adjust your habits to realities, or you steal the needed money from “someone else”. When you’re manipulating government for your own purposes, it’s a no-brainer to guess which option usually wins. And who loses? The victims of your “tyranny of the majority” bullying. Thanks to our majority women voters, almost everything in America has become one long never-ending quest to get “someone else” to take the blame, pay the bills and do the hard stuff for “special me”, very often while despicably hiding behind “the children”, all while whining with the same lie that after a half century women are still paid only the same 77% of the pay of men, are still eternal victims of inherently evil men. Bullshit.
Even the state tax code is full of nonsensical unearned benefits paid for by “someone else”. Several years ago I replaced one of my home’s two heat pumps. (It’s like a really complicated furnace that can both heat and cool, although I’ve never used mine to cool.) Those things cost over $5,000 each, but my new machine was more efficient than the old one. When tax time came, I realized I could off-set a small portion of the cost with a state tax credit claimed on my tax forms. It was a measure in a law intended to encourage people to upgrade to more efficient energy: one house, one heat pump, one tax credit, less wasted energy for years. It made sense. But when I read the small print I discovered that if I had a wife, she could have claimed the same tax credit on her taxes, too. The existence of a spouse doubled the tax credit – even though the same heat pump would still be producing the same energy regardless of whether there was one or twenty people living in the house. With a working married couple, not only was the original cost of the heat pump significantly reduced for each person, but the total tax credit was doubled! The fact that a spouse could get the same tax credit as her husband for the one heat pump was testimony to the “tyranny of the majority” of women voters. There are now incredibly over 1,600 federal statutes that provide such extra benefits to American women, not to mention all those similar state and local laws. (No votes have ever proven so enormously expensive to buy than those of American women over the past thirty years. Thankfully “same sex marriage” will soon become possible for heterosexual men.) And a “family” is defined as a woman with one or more cash benefit-producing children – no husband or father required. (Men are still rarely awarded custody of their children in divorce, and it’s still nearly impossible for a man without a wife to adopt children.) All women in America are compensated handsomely for freely exercising their many rights and choices. It’s small wonder indeed that the country is nearly bankrupt.
Footnote #4. In 1824, 1876 and 1888 (123 years ago), the winning candidate won the electoral college vote but not the popular vote, but those were special cases in history that really had nothing to do with the electoral college. In 2000, however, both candidates, knowing that the popular election was going to be really close, concentrated strategically on the electoral college. One candidate won 50,456,002 votes, while the other won 50,999,897 votes (total votes: 101,455,899), but the popular vote winner ended up with 266 electoral college votes, while the popular vote loser had 271 electoral college votes – at that time just two more than needed to win. The popular vote difference was less than one half of 1%, less than the number of votes available in our smallest state.
The electoral vote loser in 2000 could have won by concentrating a little more on the small state of Nevada with 4 electoral votes, where the difference was only 21,600 popular votes (less than 4%). On the other hand, the winner could have cushioned his victory by concentrating a little more on the small state of New Mexico with 5 electoral votes, where the difference was only a tiny 366 votes (out of 573,200). If you select a certain strategy, your planning should ensure that strategy is more than enough to be the winning strategy. In 2000 both candidates made mistakes in their planning, and in their execution. It was NOT the Constitution that failed.
In 2012, President Obama won election by getting 62,611,250 votes (50.4%) out of 124,046,580 votes cast. Just 588,000 (less than 1/2 of 1% or 0.47%) voters pushed his popular vote tally above 50%. This was a typically very close American national election. But President Obama, with a very smart strategy, was able to garner 332 electoral votes (61.7%), while his opponent, Mitt Romney, got only 206 (38.3%) of the 538 electoral college votes, giving Obama a very clear victory. (He concentrated mainly on big urban states and metropolitan areas – and won a very close popular vote but chalked up a “landslide” win in the electoral college.) The results were quite similar to the 2008 election, but this time Obama lost Indiana and North Carolina, and his closest margin of victory was in Florida, where just 74,300 votes (0.88%) out of 8,490,000 votes cast gave him all of Florida’s 29 electoral college votes. Actually it’s very rare for an incumbent Democrat candidate to win the popular vote for his second term; since Roosevelt was the last Democrat to do so, 68 years ago, history indicated that Obama desperately needed the electoral college to stay in office. Not surprisingly, those on the left who are always clamoring for eliminating the electoral college were silent this time. As usual, in 2012 Democrats were very heavy winners in cities, especially on the east and west coasts, where people are much more government-dependent, while Republicans were heavy winners in suburban and rural areas, especially in the heartland, where people are much more self-reliant. It probably helped Obama that 100,000,000 (44%) of eligible American voters (225,000,000) did not vote; a large majority of these voters were men. It also helped Obama that the Republicans went through a very long, costly and brutal primary season before settling on their standard-bearer – Romney. (Romney got 59,134,475 popular votes (47.7%), and a range of very small third parties got another 2,300,859 popular votes (1.9%). The party that actually best espouses policies claimed by broad Republican principles, the Libertarian Party, was a very distant third-place winner with 1,275,827 popular votes.)
Natural And Legal Rights
A very critical aspect of rights as enumerated in the US Constitution is the adjective “unalienable” affixed to certain of those rights (i.e., “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”). These are thus inherent, absolute, or “natural“, rights of the people that cannot be transferred to another or others. Why is this? If they are rights, but rights that cannot be transferred, by anyone, even the state, they must have been bestowed by a “higher authority”, an authority higher than man or the state – by God. While government has subsequently determined that these “natural” rights, in fact, can be violated or limited by the state in specific instances, such as in punishment for crimes or in “happiness pursuits” that infringe on the rights of others, the principle of “inalienability” remains fundamental to such universal rights of man.
But if rights emanate from, can be bestowed by, the state (via law, decree, policy, court decision, etc.), then the state can also withdraw them. Anyone going down this path of rights emanating from the state is treading on shaky ground; it creates a foundation for rights built on sand, and sand that can shift. There have always been those who seek to deny the existence of any power higher than the state; such thinking has given the green light to all sorts of rulers and dictators, from Henry VIII and Robespierre to Hitler and Stalin, answerable to nothing beyond themselves and solely interested in engineering society to suit their own purposes. The state, and the bureaucrats who execute the functions of the state, will ALWAYS seek to “bend the rules”, to “streamline the process”, to “make up new rules”, to make their jobs “easier”, the role of the state “better”, more “efficient”, more “effective” and, in recent times, the environment more “safe” and “secure” for “the people”. It’s almost always a subterfuge for ulterior objectives.
So, the Constitution also specifically enumerates certain legal rights, such as “freedom of religion”, “freedom of the press”, etc. bestowed by the Constitution, agreed to by the Founding Fathers and ratified by the states, on the people — that can not be violated by the state. Even though solidly based in US Constitutional Law, these “legal” rights are on less solid ground than “natural” rights and must be doggedly defended by the people at every effort of government encroachment. If they are not, if the people invest too much faith in the state, fail to remain vigilant, then the people become participants in the erosion of their own rights.
As almost everyone knew, the original Constitution had one major flaw which the Founders were unable to rectify – slavery. This flaw attributed to one group of humans a status different from all others. But the Constitution did contain a mechanism that could later be used to force a solution to this major flaw; it linked human property to voting power. Once that flaw was corrected (Thirteenth Amendment, 1865, abolishing slavery, and thus also the concept of human property in apportioning vote weight), the Constitution finally considered all citizens as equal, and enabled them all to be subject to the same rules and benefits. This remained the case until 1973, when the Supreme Court handed down one remarkably unique decision.
(Some see women’s suffrage as another flaw in the Constitution, but the Constitution neither prohibited or required the voting rights of women. It merely allowed the individual states to establish their own requirements for voting eligibility. The fact that the various states were not in full agreement on this subject was more a matter of women themselves not being in full agreement on the subject. Very many women until the 20th century were not so anxious to exercise a right to vote that also carried with it accompanying responsibilities. It is one thing to vote for taxes, but quite another to vote for taxes on “me”. It’s one thing to vote for measures leading to war; it’s quite another matter to be subject to a draft in the prosecution of that war. The Nineteenth Amendment, ratified by a majority of the states in 1920, finally settled the matter by making it illegal to deny any US citizen the right to vote based on sex. Note that the 19th Amendment did not “give the women the right to vote”; in accordance with the Constitutional concept of equality, it guaranteed the “right of both genders to vote”.)
Court decisions in democracies are based on “Basic Law” – in America on the US Constitution. Those Court decisions may not violate the fundamental precepts of that US Constitution, which include the legal rights enumerated in the Constitution’s accompanying Bill of Rights (Amendments 1 through 10). Following from that starting point, Court decisions set precedent in that they establish legal decisions that can then be used by subsequent Courts when deciding similar matters for other groups. Thus, any Court decision that happens to benefit one group today can, and often does, benefit another group tomorrow. One of the most important fundamental precepts of the US Constitution is the one concerning equality, that all rights of man are shared equally by all citizens, that law of the state may not be used to favor any group over another.
One particularly curious legal right, however, is the “right to an abortion”, what many see as the first major chink in the Constitution’s armor since the matter of slavery had finally been resolved over a century earlier. The Court’s “Roe versus Wade” decision in 1973 was unique in American history – it granted a legal “right” to one group of citizens that was applicable to only that one group. The concept of equality was not a factor.
Further, this right was bestowed by the Supreme Court based on a theoretical right of “privacy”, which is nowhere mentioned in the Constitution. So the legal right to an abortion is based on a supposed right (privacy) that heretofore was never considered an inalienable right of man and that also does not exist in the Constitution as a legal right. And neither privacy or abortion are universal rights in all societies. The “logic” followed by that Court defies rational analysis. In the first place, no society would consciously enshrine in law a right which could lead to that society’s own gradual or eventual demise. (A society’s first purpose, its first duty, is to ensure its continued existence.) But the argument used, that the act of abortion is based on a broadly vague right of “privacy”, can also be used to legalize all sorts of human activity that is simply reprehensible to the majority of a society’s members – such as drug use or even pedophilia – also conducted “in private”. So this “right”, bestowed by the state, must also be doggedly defended by those who benefit from it – but without providing an opening for other activities to also become “rights”. It’s a pretty shaky house of cards kept in place primarily by very noisy and powerful women’s lobbies and the super majority of voters who are women far more interested in their rights than in their responsibilities. It’s actually impossible to explain logically why abortion is a “right of privacy” and home-growing marijuana for the owner’s use is not.
Once you open the door to changes to the Constitution, you inevitably open the door to unintended consequences. Precedents established in one area can always be used to engineer changes in other areas. If a right of privacy enables the legal killing of an unborn fetus, why can’t that same right of privacy enable the legal possession and use of cocaine? That it does not is mostly a simple matter of “tyranny of the majority”, not based on logic, but on emotion. From there, literally anything is possible. (As one subsequent step, the “right of privacy” was used to enshrine sodomy and thus gay marriage.)
It’s always far better to find ways to live within the rules, rules that remain constant and equally applicable to everyone. “You learn the rules; you master the process; and you beat the jerks at their own game.” – just like citizens have done since the beginning of the American Adventure. It may not be easy, but it is possible.
Women as a group were for very long ambivalent about their right to vote, concerned as they were about having to assume all those pesky accompanying responsibilities. They eventually found a way to accumulate an ever growing list of rights without the accompanying responsibilities – by concentrating their and the public’s attention on their eternal “victim” status. (Victims cannot be held responsible.) The enormous attention heaped on the “right of abortion” by women’s lobbies over the past forty years fueled the perception in the public mind that laws, especially legal civil rights laws, can be written and enacted to benefit only certain “special” groups in our society. Title IX of the Civil Rights Act, for example, is now almost universally seen as a “right of girls and women”. This, of course, is utter nonsense, since the law applies equally to both genders and to all of American education, but such “thinking” inevitably becomes infectious, easily spreading throughout society to hundreds of other self-proclaimed eternal “victim” groups. Eventually all sorts of groups come to believe that they are “special” and that certain laws are solely for their own benefit, and that none of their rights involve things like responsibilities.
It all leads inevitably to asinine notions such as the “evolution” of the concept of rights (one in which the concept of responsibility is unknown).
Whenever I see such discussions, I know that some idiot or some self-serving group is seeking to enshrine in American law a caste society, one made of the “special” people standing out over all the fools below. At that point, America is finished, no longer worthy of defending.
Leave the Constitution alone. Work within the rules, for the benefit of everyone equally.
Can A State Secede?
A lot of people claim that the Civil War settled the matter of a state’s ability to secede from the Republic, but these people are also those claiming that the Civil War was about secession, rather than about slavery. You can’t have it both ways. The war was started and prosecuted, by both North and South, over the matter of the “right” of states and their citizens to engage in human slavery. Lincoln did use the rationale that states had no right to such self-determination, but that still did not address the right of states which had already peacefully seceded to self-determination. Lincoln did arrest Maryland representatives in 1860, on the eve of war, who were going to vote that Maryland secede, but those arrests were deemed illegal after the war; if Maryland had so voted, then the North would have been the “rebels”. Lincoln was on very solid moral ground, but on very shaky legal ground.
Furthermore, there’s a grave flaw in this “thinking”. The “united states” was formed by colonies which voluntarily joined the Republic as sovereign states in a federation after meeting certain standards of acceptance, including ratifying the US Constitution, while retaining certain rights for themselves. A “union” held together by military force is not a union at all, but the forced subjugation of a people by a more powerful state – as in the case of Great Britain’s occupation and exploitation of Ireland for centuries, a shameful matter that figured prominently in the development of the US Constitution. If the marriage contract of two people can be easily and peacefully dissolved by legal divorce, than so can the marriage contract of states. Civil people do not solve differences not prohibited by law within a democracy by shooting at each other.
One of the principle architects of the Constitution, Thomas Jefferson, in fact, was a vocal advocate of the right of secession. “If any state in the Union will declare that it prefers separation… to a continuance in union… I have no hesitation in saying, ‘let us separate.’ “
A half century later, President James Buchanan, Lincoln’s immediate predecessor, agreed with Jefferson, claiming in 1860 that the nation should never use force to make states compliant. “The fact is that our Union rests upon public opinion, and can never be cemented by the blood of its citizens shed in civil war. If it can not live in the affections of the people, it must one day perish. Congress possesses many means of preserving it by conciliation, but the sword was not placed in their hand to preserve it by force.”
The United States has long supported the rights of provinces of other nation states to their own secession and self-determination – but only if that secession and self-determination does not involve a friendly nation state and is in a direction which the US wants, and not in those cases where the reverse is true. (Kosovo may thus secede, become independent and join western Europe, but South Ossetia may not do the same and join Russia. Get it? It’s little more than the arrogance of power, making up one set of rules that favor “my” self-interests, and another set of rules that oppose the self-interests of others. This is an emotion-based society that can rationalize literally anything to suit “Me” at any given moment – until someone tries the same crap on “Me”.)
A few years after the end of the Civil War, the Supreme Court did rule (1869) on a case involving Texas, naturally, given the recent memory of the war, that while secession was “unconstitutional”, it probably could be successfully accomplished by (1) revolution, as did the Americans against their British rulers and military occupiers, or (2) consent of a majority of the other states, but not by force (armed rebellion) against the other states (as had South Carolina, followed by the other southern states). The Court’s Chief Justice wrote in that single case that “Texas had become part of “an indestructible Union, composed of indestructible states” – but there is nothing anywhere to support such an assertion beyond emotionalism, which was still running very high in 1869. (How do you admit that a civil war, of which you are still adding up the dead, was “illegal”?) Most of such emotionalism is based on the fact that so many male members of all the states have died in the nation’s many wars, under one flag, but with much less than 1% of Americans these days having any credible military experience at all, this factor looses more relevance every day. Many issues which still evoke emotional “thinking” based on past events often ring hollow in the context of today’s realities.
Besides, how many women, the super-majority of American voters, have died in the nation’s wars? How many Irish men were drafted for centuries into service under the British Union Jack, right up through the First World War?
In addition to the millions of Famine Irish streaming into the US during the Civil War period, very easy prey for those filling male draft quotas in the North and the South, Great Britain, in fact, delivered to the North over 100,000 fresh Irish conscripts, whom it regarded as little more than its own slaves, as Northern cannon-fodder. Britain could have just as easily delivered those conscripts to the South, as the American Civil War was, in fact, a matter of intense debate inside Great Britain, with most of the people and press supporting the South. Great Britain never could figure out which side to support to its greatest self-interests, especially considering all that Southern cotton. The sanctimonious British snobs have always been great about pointing the finger at others while totally disregarding their own treatment of the Irish serfs right under their nose; it was all so “in-bred”, so self-serving. It was, in fact, British regard of the Irish “sub-humans” that led easily to the establishment of slavery throughout the colonies which Britain and its Church of England had established in the American agricultural South. Great Britain has always been another of those self-serving states that gets really selective when deciding who gets a “right to self-determination”. It was only after Eisenhower revealed the “British Empire” to be a heavily indebted house of cards in 1956 that Great Britain began to voluntarility entertain the idea of “self-determination”.
The truth is that the US Constitution and none of its amendments make any provisions for secession one way or the other, grants no such inherent “right of secession” and prohibits no such action, so the question becomes one of morality. The best case for morality can be found in the very first sentence of the Declaration of Independence adopted by the thirteen original colonies – “it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another.” The best basis for taking such a moral path would be if the federal government adopted a national policy that was specifically prohibited by the Constitution, such as the establishment of an official religion or banning criticism of the President, or was diametrically opposed to principles contained in the Constitution, such as legalizing human slavery, denying any group of citizens the right to vote, or violated anything addressed in any legal documents accompanying the state’s original joining of the union.
If a majority of a state’s population voted for their state to secede, and the state’s elected leaders were prepared for all the consequences of cutting the state lose from all its dependence on federal largesse (“other people’s money”), then the federal government would be very hard pressed to rationalize some reason NOT to accept the concept of self-determination and oppose it through military force. Furthermore, it is unlikely today that the US military could successfully execute the forced military occupation of a state or several states seeking to peacefully secede without very major adverse consequences to the military and to all Americans, without setting off armed rebellions everywhere. Chances are that the Supreme Court would find nothing “constitutional” OR “unconstitutional” in the move and that politicians would be unable to come up with acceptable rationale to impose military force.
If California so seceded, it would immediately become the world’s sixth largest country; something like that is hard to keep “beneath the radar” in a world where the US is continuously championing “self-determination”. With the steady growth of the power of the federal government over the past century, the accompanying problems for both sides would be monumental, but possible, especially if the state seceding enjoyed direct access to the sea, to Mexico or to Canada. The matter of French-speaking Quebec seceding from Canada has on several occasions risen to the fore, but the adult Canadians have always been able to reach a mutual accommodation, a mutually satisfactory resolution of differences, and the Commonwealth has never considered the use of force to prohibit Quebec’s right to self-determination.
The individual states DO, in fact, retain certain rights for themselves, including any right not specifically prohibited by the Constitution. Under the Tenth Amendment, all powers not delegated to the federal government nor prohibited to the states are retained by the states or the people. The United States is, after all, a voluntary federal Republic, and its Constitution is based on the concept that sovereignty resides in the people, not in the federation, in the federal state.
Now, whether counties of a state may by popular vote join together to form a new governing body and legally secede from a state to form a new state is an entirely different matter. On the surface, it does seem an easier matter to engineer than whole states seceding from the union.