Friday, July 22, 2011

How would you run the zoo?

During the first Reagan administration, there was a pundit-driven propaganda campaign favoring a new Constitutional convention. Many conservatives, and even a few lefties (including Gore Vidal) supported the idea. I found the notion horrifying. It was easy to guess the kind of people who might attend such a convention. Jeane Kirkpatrick, David Stockman and Pat Buchanan rewriting the fundamental laws of the land? No thanks.

Today's attendees might well be even worse. (Frankly, I'd much prefer Pat Buchanan to, say, Michelle Bachmann.) And yet we are entering times when such a revolutionary step might become thinkable.

So let's start thinking about it. How would you reframe the most basic laws governing the United States?

One particularly thorny issue concerns freedom of speech. I like the mad jumble of widely varying opinion available on the internet, where you can find far-rightists, far leftists and everything in between. But in other media, money rules, which means that the spectrum of permitted opinion usually runs from right to righter. Freedom of the press belongs to the guy who owns a press, as the old axiom has it. How do we fix that situation?

Should we have a unicameral legislature? Greater direct democracy? A division of duties between a head of government and a head of state who represents the nation at ceremonial occasions? Should corporations continue to be seen as persons? Should Supreme Court Justices continue to be appointed for life? (Thirty years ago, most conservatives would have screamed "NO!" Now, not so much.) How should elections be financed? Should there be an electoral college? Should health care be part of the Constitution? Should the Constitution recognize a distinction between finance capital and industrial capital?

How would you run the zoo?
We already have the best document for a union, and it's not working.

The U.S. Constitution worked until 1860 when the guns were used to keep the union together. After the Civil War, the union has been held together by a bad government in Washington. I think the union should break up.

Thanks for asking.

I think we should make it possible to immediately recall Presidents who go bad.

Our last two Presidents no sooner stepped into office than they turned as bad as stinky rotten fish, just instantly. Bush II an dObama took the oath of office and ZAP!--they went bad!

Think how much better off we'd be if we could have benched Bush II and Obama right away, before they could do so much damage. The Republic may not survive the Bush-Obama double whammy.

Also, we need to abolish the Senate, so the votes of hicks in Utah don't count twenty times as much as the votes of New Yorkers. I love hicks, but am sick of having them run the country.
A few thoughts:

Do away with the Senate.

Members of the House represent a maximum of 40,000 constituents.

Money is not speech.

Create an independent agency attached to the judiciary whose function is to continually audit the actions of the executive and legislative branches and prosecute transgressions. Funding shall be equal to the funding of the legislative branch.

Funding for all military and national security functions is capped at 2% of GDP except in times of actual declared war.

President's military authority limited to defense against direct physical attack, otherwise there must be a declared war.

Strengthen first, second, fourth and fifth amendment protections.

There's more I'd do ... but this is a foolish exercise. What we'd really wind up with is a cross between Nazi Germany and the Spanish Inquisition.
For a start, make civics and the history Constitution of the United States a mandatory part of the "No Child Left Behind" testing.

If the Founding Fathers only knew that their First Amendment would bring the dissemination of missing blond cheerleader and unfit mother stories in lieu of real news they would have scratched it out.
I don't know enough about the fine tuning of US politics to make an intelligent stab at this. But one thing that would make a world of difference in the current sorry state of affairs would be taking the $$$$$$$$$$ out of elections.
Elections ought to be publicly funded, every candidate standing equal, nobody bought. And counting of votes should be somehow monitored by outside agencies. Not sure how though.
Off topic so you can delete this but I'm wondering what you think of this:

Exhibit 5 seems to show that the registrar stamp on Obama's birth certificate was imported and then rotated. I don't believe Corsi on anything but don't know enough to figure out what he's doing here.
When I read Vidal on this he said it would be a disaster because once they are there they would have no restraint on redoing the entire thing. Altho imperfect, the people who drew it up were far ore intelligent and capable of thinking than modern people.

We could make all the intelligent suggestions in the world but when the rabble got in there, well, I hope to never see it.
We could do as Perry Logan says, but then we would have generations of in and out burgers as France did for so long. Not that that might not be a good idea.
I would take Mr. Mike's suggestion further. In the past, I've annoyed people with the suggestion that people with sub-normal intelligence should not be allowed to vote.

The obvious criticism here involves race and the history of segregationist schemes. However, it seems to me possible to weight IQ score requirements to insure that the various races vote in the same percentages as is the case now. Perhaps we can do even better. Perhaps we can even insure that they vote in proportion to their physical numbers.

In other words, blacks are now 11.6 percent of the voters, even though they are 13.6 of the overall population. I have no problem with raising the IQ requirements for white voters until the overall number of black voters gets bumped up to 13.6 percent.

The important point is to weed out the true dummies. There are people out there who can't tell you how many sides a triangle has. These people have no business voting. They simply are not capable of seeing to their own interests.
In the past, I've annoyed people with the suggestion that people with sub-normal intelligence should not be allowed to vote.

Which rather reminds me of John Adams's aversion to allowing non-property owners to vote, as it might lead to the franchise being extended to "women, Negroes, and other unsuitable persons". Who sets the criteria? Who writes the test? I agree that, in a perfect world, it might be possible to arrive at some sort of "fair" testing criteria (whatever that means) - but if the world were perfect government itself would become unnecessary.

If you really did this, you'd end up with:

1) a vast underground industry in professional test-takers (this already happens with the SAT, MCAT, LSAT, and GRE).

2) A slightly less-shady tutoring industry.

3) Corrupt, bribe-taking test evaluators

Eventually, only the relatively wealthy would be able to vote, because they'd have the resources to game the system. In other words, pretty much what we have now.

There are additional problems with two-tier citizenship (which is, after all, what you're proposing). Who protects the rights of those deemed to stupid to vote? If they're too dumb to vote, why should we presume that they're smart enough to be able to express themselves freely or manage their personal affairs. Shouldn't they be entrusted to their "betters", for their own good? Shouldn't their "betters" be compensated for this - through the labors of th4) Demands from parents that schools "teach to the test".
eir clients if no other resources are available?

What you're proposing is, in a very literal sense, "aristocracy" ("rule by the best") - and that aristocracy would end up being largely hereditary (to the extent there's a correlation between IQ and heredity). The problem with "aristocracy" has always been in the definition of "the best".

Hell, we could even give people fancy titles based on their test scores.

No thanks, Joe, my ancestors came here to get away from that.
Perry, the problem with your suggestion is that Bush wouldn't have been recalled. After all, he managed to get re-elected. His popularity wasn't low enough for a recall to have worked until well into his second term.
Rewriting the Constitution is a fundamentally bad idea simply because there isn't anyone in public life today as astute as James Madison.
In the past, I've annoyed people with the suggestion that people with sub-normal intelligence should not be allowed to vote.
I don't see this as A Good Idea - not at all. It'd be a backward step.

After all, what you term sub-normal intelligence could belong to someone with a fair amount of natual savvy, but no academic skills, and little schooling, who would fail a test.

Who would be wise enough, fair enough to decide who'd be "good enough" to vote?

Someone of "sub-normal intelligence" might still be working and earning and contributing to the good of the country in some way....and have every much as right to vote as any one of high intelligence - who might well have little in the way of common sense.

I've known enough so-called intellectuals to realise that maybe THEY are the ones who ought not to be voting!
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