Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Don't Tread On Me

Recently people who have read Revolution have asked where I stand among the omnipresent pandemonium of political aisles. To be perfectly frank, I stand between the aisles. As a person who prefers a solitary life, to some extent I am on the outside looking into the fray and very content with my position. My perspective doesn't afford me any more rights or lend weight to being right about any issue. However, my perspective affords a more objective view of the political killing fields. As a direct response to the question, I list ten points that represent where I stand.

First, politics is about survival versus issues. A politician stays in office by virtue of how legislation deals with the issues. If the constituency believes their elected representative is dealing with their issues, the representative will be re-elected. How the politician delivers the rhetoric around the issue makes all the difference. U.S. culture keys on and believes marketing rhetoric. Because of the ubiquity of marketing, people become unaware of the effects. I simply don't believe the rhetoric nor the marketing. People don't look at track records and house bills for themselves. They expect the marketing to tell them the truth.

Second, with regard to today's bucket load of economic and social issues: There is no way out without a significant toll. The cost of correction is too steep for U.S. culture. To say there is no easy solution for any of the several major issues facing U.S. citizens today is a gross and naive understatement.

Third, President Obama didn't cause the economic crisis. The crash has its roots in the housing bubble and money squirting from the U.S. Treasury for foreign wars. President Nixon did the same thing in the early 1970s. In the context of the economic crisis of 2009: Traveling as I did earlier in my career, I saw many metropolitan areas. All of them were building like beavers in downtown and outlying suburbs. I saw so much new construction that I wondered where the people were to buy or rent all this real estate. The simple answer is the builders were in kahootz with the lenders. Follow the money. The cash flow stops at lenders, fund managers, and local governments. Everybody else was left holding the purse strings.

Fourth, the notion that Obama is ineffective is distorted. Congress is just as ineffective and in addition is dysfunctional. The system described by the Constitution requires the President and Congress to work together, which doesn't mean the two have to agree. Nevertheless, a President must have a functional Congress or there is no progress. When a partisan deadlock occurs in Congress nothing can be implemented. However, Obama's leadership to overcome the Congressional deficiency is deficient itself, as if (a) the President is waiting for Congress to become functional; or (b) the President has given up hope of a functional Congress. He seems disillusioned to me. Someone who is in over his head.

Fifth, the party system in the U.S. has been bipolar since the middle 1800s. The Republican and Democratic parties have grown into big corporations. This is inappropriate in the context of a republic. The subject is discussed by James Madison in the Federalist Papers under the Utility of the Union as a Safeguard Against Domestic Faction. The Republican and Democratic parties are the sort of faction Madison described as "..a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or a minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adversed to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community." [Overview of Federalist 10][Federalist 10]. Madison noted that "The instability, injustice, and confusion introduced into the public councils, have, in truth, been the mortal diseases under which popular governments have everywhere perished." The Republican party (as well as The People) has forgotten the U.S. is a republic and the Democratic party has abandoned democracy. It's time to abandon the parties.

Sixth, the U.S. constituency has a twisted view of elected representatives. The culture categorizes representatives as leaders. The difference between a leader and a representative is an obvious one. Leaders lead and representatives represent - it's academic. Representatives reflect the political happiness of a community. Leaders shove legislation down the community's throat. Leaders are implementers. Representatives legislate. One is a doer and the other a speaker. Giving all respect to the Constitution, the persons the constituency elect are representatives and not leaders. A republican form of government is led by The People, not by politicians. The U.S has democratic process to choose directions. Written history of the 1780s shows those elected were called delegates. A delegate represents their constituents. Some communities told the delegate how to vote, others relied on the delegate's own knowledge and discretion. The People have the incorrect view of the system, a view that needs correcting. If corrected, The People will have no one but The People to blame. The U.S. has the government it deserves versus the one it needs; hard but true.

Seventh, there are no solutions to the U.S. crises that the constituency will accept. The cost in all cases is more than the U.S. electorate is willing to pay. For example, while the effects of fossil fuels have been known for decades, the emotions around entitlement to cheap gasoline are tight and persistent. The obvious solution to this, and many U.S. issues, is to reduce the dependency on oil as a whole. The leaders of OPEC understand they are dependent upon the U.S. dependency. They view the U.S. as a cash cow. The cost of gasoline will be moderated at levels that produce the largest returns for nationalized oil production and prices that don't produce too much resistance from the consumer; the phrase too much resistance should be emphasized because it implies a system of graduated prices over time. The price of gasoline will continue to climb. The U.S. has a co-dependent relationship with oil that must be broken.

Eighth, the [U.S. Supreme Court in 1819] conveyed personhood to corporations with respect to the 14th Amendment. Corporations have Constitutional rights as a matter of the interpretation of the word person. Those in favor of corporate personhood argue that a corporation is a group of people with common goals and that the individuals of that collection have the same rights as any individuals of any other group. In short, that says that corporations as an organization of people can not be denied the rights of a person in the context of Section 2 of the 14th Amendment. Corporations can form organizations like citizens. The organizations are called lobbies which have a great deal of money and power behind them. These lobbies mock the popular voice. A citizen group likely doesn't have the resources of a corporation and the popular voice is thus lost in the wind. I say to the Supreme Court: a corporation is no more a person than a hive is a bee. The interpretation is wrong and the factions known as corporate lobbies must be outlawed.

Ninth, the tax code (Title 26) is untenable. Title 26 origins are in the 16th Amendment. In 1919 a committee of the House of Representatives decided to codify the U.S. tax statutes. The codification has continued to become more complicated and less effective. The tax code allows corporations to pay no income tax despite reports of rising dividends. There are too many loopholes, and there is little hope for change. A fair system would entail every citizen and every corporation paying a share. Hope disappears in the question of what is fair. The question is a black hole of slippery slopes. In my opinion, a fair system would be a flat graduated tax not to exceed 15% on persons and 10% on corporations. There would be no exceptions or exemptions. The system would apply less to low income than high income. The percentage paid would actually in most cases be less but a greater population is paying.

Tenth, the idea of a revolution in the U.S. must be refined. The revolution must be peaceful and legal. Legal with respect to the Constitution and peaceful with respect to bloodshed. Any ideas about a political savior must be dispelled like Santa Claus. The People, still searching for the silver bullet, assign categories of philosophy, loosing sight of the issues by concentrating on redundantly asserting irreconcilable differences. The categorizations made today cause the polarization. Thus, the tendency is to blame the other side with plenty of sides to go around. Each side blaming the others for the current crises. If no one is right, then everyone is wrong. The revolution degrades quickly into a war between factions. The U.S. came to its current status over a long period of time. Unfortunately, U.S. citizens are unable to organize themselves against the weight of a government that condones corporate welfare over the general welfare and thus there will be no revolution. Corporate welfare and social welfare will continue. The People are very obviously conscripted to providing for more basic interests.

Concluding, if a category absolutely must be declared then perhaps progressive will serve but only in a peculiar way. I don't believe that any category of philosophy has it all right. I don't believe I do either. Categorizations don't work as a place to assign responsibility when distributing the responsibility is more pragmatic. The U.S. electorate desperately needs a turning post and only practical solutions will suffice. Political solutions alone have a shallow foundation and won't survive the force of the turn. The ideas listed are purely mine and subject to change at any time for what I hope is sufficient reason. Each point can be criticized but I'll not be criticized or categorized for having given the matter thought. Don't tread there.