Restoring the Constitution

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Over the years the constitution has been “improved” by a list of amendments. The purpose of this blog today is to look at some of them, and how rolling certain ones back, “restoring” the constitution, might actually be a better, and more “progressive” act than the keeping of those “progressive” amendments.

1) Roll back the 16th Amendment

The 16th amendment reads:

 AMENDMENT XVI

Passed by Congress July 2, 1909. Ratified February 3, 1913.

Note: Article I, section 9, of the Constitution was modified by amendment 16.

The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.

Rolling back the Income tax would drastically reduce the revenue and power of the Federal government. It would also remove a very regressive tax. We want to encourage people to earn money, to create more wealth. The Income tax encourages people to shelter their wealth, rather than to create it. Removing the income tax would also decrease the government’s ability to manipulate the economy by creating tax shelters and tax loopholes that favor one group over another.  It would level the economic playing field for all.

For those who agree with my logic about wealth creation, but disagree with my logic about curbing the size and power of the Federal government, the logical thing is to replace the 16th amendment with a new amendment for a national sales tax, called the “Fair Tax”. The Fair Tax would tax consumption, not wealth creation, encouraging people to invest and earn more, and thus stimulate the economy. For those who complain this would unfairly burden the poor, for whom consumption of necessities is the core of their spending, the tax as written includes a refunded exemption of the tax to everyone equal to the poverty level, so that everyone’s basic necessities would be effectively untaxed.

2) Roll back the 17th Amendment

The 17th Amendment reads:

AMENDMENT XVII

Passed by Congress May 13, 1912. Ratified April 8, 1913.

Note: Article I, section 3, of the Constitution was modified by the 17th amendment.

The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislatures.

When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.

This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the election or term of any Senator chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution.

Prior to this amendment the legislatures of each state elected the senators, while the house was elected directly.  The purpose of this amendment was to take the senate out of the hands of the cronies in the states and give them to the people. But the effect has been to unbalance the power of the states and the federal government, and deprive the states of their influence over the federal government. And rather than put the senators at the access of the people, it exchange the influence of the states for those of the lobbyists in Washington. The senators have less, not more, constraints on their exercise of power.

3) Unlock the reapportionment of the House of Representatives

This suggestion isn’t as much a rollback of an amendment, as a correction of an allocation problem. The constitution requires proportional representation in the House, with each representative have an equal district by population, with the smallest allowed size being 30,000 people in a district. Back in 1911 the size of the House of Representatives got locked at 435 representatives, and the size of districts has continued to grow ever since, with each representative representing more and more people, thus growing his power base. My recommendation is to unlock this, and drastically reduce the size of districts. With a population of 300 million I propose districts of that 30,000 each, for a house size of 10,000. I also propose that we not assemble these 10,000 representatives in Washington DC, but create a virtual congress, a virtual house.  Using current technology it would be very easy to connect all the representatives via secure internet connections from their homes in their districts, and all the business of congress could be convened virtually between the congressmen, while having them live among the people they represent. Another plus of this is that a dispersed congress would be a much tougher target for lobbyists to contact and entertain and feted at lavish events, etc.

Further benefit, depending on your point of view, is the possibility of smaller parties to get a representative elected. While I don’t see it drastically changing the two-party system, I see a lot of “third parties” getting the occasional candidate into the congress and requiring the main parties to address more of these issues instead of just sweeping these views under the rug.

The senate could be similarly decentralized, with similar benefits. I am sure the cost of all this would be much less than the current expenses of office buildings in the capital.

 

Newsworthy

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Let’s see, how many things are going on today of newsworthy importance — things I could blog about — that I don’t really know anything about.

Okay, did I just ask myself to list the things I don’t know? ;)

Anyway, lets see, we have:

1) Ferguson

2) ISIS

3) Gaza

4) The HUGOs

5) Amazon vs. Hachette

I am sure the list is much shorter than it should be…

For someone who spent his college years and 20s in the newspaper business, I find myself quite disconnected and uninterested in much of  the news spinning around me these days — though with a bit of context I am still quite capable of generating an opinion on just about any news story. What it reminds me of is something my mother said to me while I was in college.

Going to college in the 80s, I got to hear a fair bit from certain professors about the events of the 60s that they grew up in — civil rights, marching, riots, etc. Knowing that my own parents had been around at the time, I decided to ask my mother about these events, about the 60s, to get her perspective instead of just the academic cant I was receiving. What I got was something different. “I don’t know anything about those things” she said. “I didn’t pay attention. I was too busy raising a family.”

News is the extraordinary.  News obscures.  News is the 10% of the iceberg that is seen, and not the 90% that make up the real bulk, and may be entirely different.

Yet most of us are doing the truly extraordinary — staying ordinary and doing the regular — building a life, a family, a world.

 

Sunday Quartet — His Name Medley

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Today is another of those blogs where I feature music from Avondale United Methodist Church.

 

Today’s Offertory was a quartet — a capella, by myself, Betsy, Aaron (director of music) and Shannon. Shannon was soprano, Betsy the Alto, Aaron the Tenor, and me, whose voice is technically a first tenor, sang the bass. (I love how my vocal range has expanded at both ends over the years.) We did a medley from the hymn book — #174, #177, #175 — I call it the His Name Medley.

 

We also had music by another guest organist — Mike (I didn’t keep the bulletin, so don’t have his last name right now) — a master’s student in organ at KU. So I will attach his Postlude, along with the Introit that he accompanied the quartet on.

 

Mission Accomplished

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One of the regular features of the day at our house is snack time.  We are usually good about not having sweets during the day, but in the evening we have something sweet before bedtime. Sometimes we buy packages of single serving items that can be used.  Other times we bake or make something from scratch at home .

For the past several days we haven’t had anything bought or premade, and it has required some time and creativity to come up with something each evening. Tonight I finally looked in the freezer and found we still have several containers of pumpkins left over from  our Halloween Jack-O-Lanterns. So I decided to try something with pumpkin. But what?

I went flipping through a recipe book, and saw a recipe for apple crisp, and considered modifying it for pumpkin. I also saw a pumpkin pie recipe — but pumpkin pie isn’t real popular with some members of the family. Then something flashed in my memory and I looked up pumpkin bars. I’d never made them before, but they seemed the most likely — and the cooking time was half that of a pie anyway.

So I thawed the frozen pumpkin, mixed it up, and stuck it in the oven, then started making the cream cheese frosting the recipe called for. All that was ready when it came out, but then it had to cool before we could frost.  So we just now got to trying the bars.  One member of the family still didn’t like them — apparently pumpkin of any form is anathema.  But with this size recipe I have bars available for several nights snack.

Adapters vs. Non-Adapters

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Earlier this week I had an epiphany of sorts about communication.  Now to see if I can communicate it clearly.

I was having a conversation where someone was trying to explain something to me. She described the situation; I responded back. Since I didn’t understand the situation, which she determined from my response, she described the situation again, same as before; I responded back differently, trying to figure out what was meant. She described the situation again, same as before. This went on a few more rounds, with my continually trying different adaptations until I could make the trigger connection of understanding, find the context and style to actually come to understanding of what she was explaining to me.

Perhaps this is obvious to other people, but it hadn’t been so obvious to me until I faced it this week. As one with a teacher/trainer mentality, I am always trying to find ways to change and adapt the what and way of what I am trying to communicate in order to create understanding. I hadn’t realized so concretely that there are people out there who think mere repetition of the same thing will generate understanding. (A corollary of this is the person who thinks that saying the same thing over again slower and louder to a foreign language speaker will ensure they understand what you are saying.)

What I realized is another one of the many “there are two types of people in the world” situations.  In this case, there are people who adapt their communication style to others to create understanding, and there are people who don’t adapt. The thing the adapter needs to realize is that while he or she now understands the non-adapter, the non-adapter has gained no real understanding of the adapter — despite any belief to the contrary by the non-adapter. A very good adapter can get to understand other people quite well, while being very misunderstood by others.

Now that I know this, I realize a lot of situations where such misunderstanding has skewed situations in my life. It also explains a multitude of situations where I have experienced misunderstanding. For me personally, being an adapter has also meant I have been a greater target of domination attempts by other people. In my experience a lot of non-adapters seem quite adept in getting into positions of rank and influence where they have greater opportunities to require other people to adapt to them. This isn’t done by persuasion to get other people on board, but just by the inability to see anything but what they see, and requiring everyone to see it their way.

Has anyone experienced this adapter vs. non-adapter phenomenon? How has this phenomenon affected you and shaped your life? I am truly interested in understanding (after all I am an adapter — which also means I have this penchant to want to understand).

Short question

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As season (translated gold) pass members of Worlds and Ocean of Fun we subscribe to an e-mail newsletter about what is going on at the parks. Today I got this blurb as part of the e-mail:

Sizzlin’ Saturdays!

Oceans of Fun is celebrating summer coming to an end with Sizzlin’ Saturdays! On Saturday, August 23, Gold and Platinum Passholders are invited to stay till 8 PM for an Exclusive Ride Time at the Wave Pool! ALSO, enjoy $1 ice cream cones AND a $24.99 Bring-A-Friend! Bring up to (4) friends for just $24.99 each plus tax and celebrate the end ofsummer at Oceans of Fun!

My first thought was how do they know who the gold and platinum passholders are, to be able to let them stay the extra hour. Everyone there in swimsuits.  Are they going to ask you to confirm your passes, which are in the lockers, or send everyone out and only let passholders back in?

My second thought was “Exclusive Ride Time at the Wave Pool,” does that include the slides next to the wave pool, and is the rest of the park closed?

My third thought was that $1 seems a good price for an ice cream cone, but what is the regular price.  I never buy them to know how good a price it is.

Guess we will have to attend that Saturday to find out.