Hear Ye, Hear Ye! The Constitutional Convention of the LoOG is Now In Session!

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Tod Kelly

Tod is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. He is also serves as Executive Producer and host of both the 7 Deadly Sins Show at Portland's historic Mission Theatre and 7DS: Pants On Fire! at the White Eagle Hotel & Saloon. He is  a regular inactive for Marie Claire International and the Daily Beast, and is currently writing a book on the sudden rise of exorcisms in the United States. Follow him on Twitter.

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601 Responses

  1. Avatar Jaybird
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    The presumption of sovreignty must always defer to the smaller when there is a conflict between two levels of government. Between the individual and the City, between the City and the State, between the State and the Federal Government. The greater *MUST* prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that its interest supercedes the interest of the smaller when there is conflict.

    (The wording isn’t perfect, of course, but it strikes me as vaguely perfectible.)Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Jaybird
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      Would this include civil rights issues?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Tod Kelly
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        It seems to me that a state that passes a law that says “certain individuals must sit in the back of the bus” have violated this amendment. (And if it’s not clear that it would, we can clear up the language.)

        (You know how it requires someone of lawyer intelligence or higher to explain how a law that censors a movie that contains only political speech on the basis that it contains political speech doesn’t *REALLY* violate the First Amendment? I’d be happy with an Amendment that requires equal intelligence or higher to explain how, no, states could totally run rampant over cities or cities over individuals without violating this amendment.)Report

        • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Jaybird
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          says:

          JB – Then let me try it the other way.  If a man owns property upstream of a town and opens a slaughterhouse, is he allowed to pollute the water in order to save money on animal waste disposal?  Would his individual rights as a person supersede the city, state or Fed if they wished to force him to stop?Report

          • Avatar Roger in reply to Tod Kelly
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            says:

            JB,

            I like this one!Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Tod Kelly
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            says:

            No, not at all. It’s just that the presumption of sovreignty would go to the slaughterhouse owner until the city/state/feds demonstrated that they should have jurisdiction over what’s going on.

            (I find it difficult to believe, for example, that a jury of individuals would think that the guy deciding to “pollute the water in order to save money on animal waste disposal” would be no big deal.)Report

            • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Jaybird
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              I’m going to be very dim, here, and ask you spell out your amendment to me in better detail.  RIght now, what I hear you saying is “Individual rights beat out city rights every time, except when they shouldn’t.”  I know you well enough to know that this isn’t what you mean, so I am guessing I am missing something.

              Help?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Tod Kelly
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                says:

                I said “presumption of sovreignty”.

                It’s like “presumption of innocence”.

                We have a presumption of innocence in our court cases.

                People are still found guilty. *ALL* the time.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                Jaybird,

                I think I have an instinctive feel for your proposal, but I think what we all need is some specification of what, specifically, is the type of claim that successfully rebuts this presumption of sovereignty.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to James Hanley
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                says:

                Perhaps demonstrated in a court of law.

                An automatic hearing before the court whether a law is constitutional the moment it is passed… but it also has to make it past a jury. (And a jury of appropriate-level folks… wouldn’t have individuals necessarily at a federal level law passing legislation that would affect the states. A random sampling of governors would suffice.)

                We could bundle these things so that many happen at once, of course.Report

              • Avatar Mike in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                Bad idea.

                Courts deal with cases and controversies that come about from the application of law.  Until the law is actually applied, you usually have no idea what aspect of it could run counter to the constitution or common sense.

                Plus, it would require an army of courts.  Considering the volume of laws (and would you consider administrative regulations laws to be reviewed?)  it would take years to get a constitutional ruling on some innocuous law instead of some sort of prioritization.Report

      • Avatar Matty in reply to Tod Kelly
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        It might be unworkable but you could declare the individual as the smallest unit of government in such a system. Obviously to do that you need some version of the ‘interests’ of the individual that isn’t whatever that individual feels like otherwise the whole idea of law breaks down.

        So you could say

        Individual rights (predefined by constitution)>local government>state government>federal government.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird
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      says:

      When is the ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ standard met?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater
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        Why not a trial? For a city vs. individual, a jury of individuals, for a city vs. state, a jury of mayors, for a state vs. federal, a jury of governors.Report

        • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Jaybird
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          says:

          In other words, a nicely stacked deck. Why not six mayors and six individuals in your first example?Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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            says:

            Because the presumption of sovreignty would be for the smaller individual over the greater.Report

            • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Jaybird
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              says:

              So, if somebody wants to dump toxic waste into the river, the local or state government can’t stop them and instead, an individual person has to show they’re being injured by that and spend thousands in court?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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                says:

                What happens when someone shoots someone now?

                There is a trial and a presumption of innocence.

                Would you respond “WHY PRESUME INNOCENCE??? A WOMAN IS DEAD!!! DEAD!!!! HER CHILDREN WILL GROW UP WITHOUT A MOTHER!!!! I’VE GOT A ROPE RIGHT HERE!!!!!”

                The presumption of innocence is one that protects individual rights.

                The presumption of sovreignty is one that will do similar but, I submit, it won’t prevent such things as “legally going after someone who harms someone else (by dumping in a river)”.

                Hell, if anything, it’d make it easier for individuals to tackle such things as corporations dumping Hexavalent Chromium… why? Because of the presumption of sovreignty will always defer to the smaller.

                Would something like that make you feel better? “government or other incorporated entities”?Report

    • Avatar BSK in reply to Jaybird
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      What are the “interests” of a government?  Aren’t a government’s interests an aggregation of the intersts of its constituents?  For instance, suppose federal law allowed for gay marriage but an individual stated sought to bar it, on the grounds that the federal government had no “interests” in marriage within that state.  If I was a gay resident of that state seeking to marry, this amendment would seem to leave me without recourse, meaning my interests are NOT the interests of the federal government.

      Or am I missing something in how we use the word “interests”?Report

    • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Jaybird
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      says:

      …and at that point, we’re really not a United States of America anymore. We’re more like a loosely confederated body of cities, townships, counties, and unincorporated areas.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Jaybird
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      Congratulations, you made it impossible to declare murder illegal.

      “But nobody thinks that murder should be legal!”  Welp.  How does a governing body prove beyond a reasonable doubt that murder should be illegal?  And how do we avoid that reasoning being extended to other things?  “Drugs cause significant problems for society, and the cost of mitigating those problems extend beyond what the individual who caused them could reasonably be expected to cover.  Therefore the interest of society in avoiding excessive costs supercedes the interest of individual persons to do lines of coke off a hooker’s chest.”Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to DensityDuck
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        I think that we could easily demonstrate that murder could be made illegal. We could, for example, pass a law.

        What would be *LESS* likely is that police officers acting under umbrella of the state not be charged with murder for shooting a handcuffed guy lying on the ground.

        As for the rest of your post, Annie Wittenmyer, maybe you should start a political movement to make drugs illegal. I imagine that it’ll work really, really well.Report

        • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Jaybird
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          says:

          “We could, for example, pass a law.”

          Laws are in conflict with my own interests.  And the state *MUST* prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that its interest supercedes the interest of the individual when there is conflict.

          And my point is not that you couldn’t make a case that there ought to be a law against murder.  My point is that you can make the same case against anything else you might want to be illegal.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to DensityDuck
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            Like alcohol? Like exchanging sex for money? Like selling lemonade from a sidewalk stand?

            I believe that the state could prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that a law against murder should be passed.

            I don’t know that the state could prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that a law against playing poker in your buddy’s basement should be passed. (True story: Friend’s father had the cops raid a nickle/dime/quarter poker game when he lived in Georgia.)Report

            • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Jaybird
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              Easy.  Gambling is an activity with significant potential dangers due to its inherent exploitation of human frailty.  It should be subject to heavy regulation and close oversight so that people don’t get hurt beyond what is reasonable.  As such, unlicensed gambling represents both a general hazard to society, and a betrayal of the inherent promise of regulation (i.e. that unregulated activity will be stopped to prevent illegal activity from unfairly outcompeting legitimate business operators.)Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird
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      says:

      And I’ve been spelling it wrong. Sovereignty.

      Sigh.Report

    • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Jaybird
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      Subject to some budget sanity.  A school district that demonstrably obtains 60% of its budget from outside the district should give up a good deal of “local control.”  A county whose roads are largely paid for by taxpayers outside the county needs to give up some of that sovereignty.Report

      • Avatar Jeff in reply to Michael Cain
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        This brings up the question of minority rights. 

        Person / Entity A is depriving Person B of B’s rights (let’s say an atheist forced to say a prayer).  The trial is held, but the judg and jury are all majority members.  How does Person B get redress?Report

  2. Avatar Tim Kowal
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    says:

    Randy Barnett’s “federalism amendment.”

    http://volokh.com/posts/1240513704.shtml

    Kyle Cupp stated in a comment in my post, and I concurred, that perhaps even more important than getting all the “rights” down in a constitution is putting appropriate limitations on government power.  The Founders tried to do that, but we’ve weaseled out of many of the limitations.  (I say that partly in jest — I recognize that many expansions of federal power were necessary and just.  See Lincoln and the Civil War, and Elihu Root’s observations re the second industrial revolution.)Report

    • Avatar Roger in reply to Tim Kowal
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      says:

      Tim,

      Love it!Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Tim Kowal
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      I mostly agree with this.  However, it’s hard not to recognize that – historically speaking – the lack of the federal government giving people rights to something often leads to other governments taking away things that we assume to be rights of the minority.  Voting is one that comes to mind.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Tim Kowal
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      This would overrule Heart of Atlanta and Wickard v. Filburn, which of course is what Prof. Barnett intends to happen. As to anti-discrimination law, we should note that at least as of right now, all fifty states have antidiscrimination laws affecting public accomodations, so at least in the short run we need not fear a sudden and massive return to the era of Jim Crow.

      My bigger concern is similar to Prof. Somin’s: how we define an activity that takes place entirely within a state’s boundaries. Is any transaction truly intrastate anymore? For instance, I just took a trip from my home near Los Angeles to Las Vegas. While in Las Vegas, I rented a hotel room, which might seem like an activity taking place entirely within Nevada. My residency in California would seem to have nothing to do with it. But we don’t even need to aggregate to see how non-Nevada economic interests feel an impact based on this. I used a credit card issued by a Federally-chartered bank, incorporated in Delaware and headquartered in North Carolina to pay for the room. The hotel may be a Nevada corporation, but it is principally owned by a Californian, and there are minor investors from around the world who hold stakes in it. The business is operating under the supervision of a Federal bankruptcy court. Now this looks more like an interstate and even potentially an international transaction, because there are direct economic effects around all of these non-Nevada stakeholders felt by the transaction. At what point do these interstate and international effects become significant enough that Federal jurisdiction is legitimately triggered?Report

  3. Avatar E.C. Gach
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    says:

    No Citizen of the United States shall ever be deprived of that citizenship, nor the rights conferred upon them by it.Report

  4. Avatar BSK
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    says:

    The Eagles will win a Super Bowl in my lifetime.Report

  5. Avatar BSK
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    says:

    Not an ammendment, but I always think of this scence when considering the usefulness of the document itself…

    Simon Wilder: You asked the question, sir, now let me answer it. The beauty of the Constitution is that it can always be changed. The beauty of the Constitution is that it makes no set law other than faith in the wisdom of ordinary people to govern themselves.

    Proffesor Pitkannan: Faith in the wisdom of the people is exactly what makes the Constitution incomplete and crude.

    Simon Wilder: Crude? No, sir. Our “founding parents” were pompous, white, middle-aged farmers, but they were also great men. Because they knew one thing that all great men should know: that they didn’t know everything. Sure, they’d make mistakes, but they made sure to leave a way to correct them. The president is not an “elected king,” no matter how many bombs he can drop. Because the “crude” Constitution doesn’t trust him. He’s just a bum, okay Mr. Pitkannan? He’s just a bum. Report

  6. Avatar BlaiseP
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    says:

    I’d repeal the 12th Amendment and make the presidency a direct majority election.Report

    • Avatar E.C. Gach in reply to BlaiseP
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      says:

      I support this amendment.Report

    • Avatar Ryan Bonneville in reply to BlaiseP
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      Yeah, this seems like a good idea. It’s also small enough potatoes that I could see it really happening at some point.Report

    • Avatar Katherine in reply to BlaiseP
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      Yep, I’m endorsing this one.  Simple and sensible.Report

    • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to BlaiseP
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      As soon as the federal government deeds over the 40% my state’s area that they hold, with the declared intent of never transferring it to either the state or private ownership.  We can negotiate lease rates on the military bases.  As a gesture of good faith, the feds can retain the national parks so long as they’re willing to take care of them.  I am unwilling to take the chance that a majority of voters, living hundreds or thousands of miles away from here in states with insignificant federal land holdings, get to choose the chief executive that helps set much of the detail of the land-use policy.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Michael Cain
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        says:

        Sounds like a great idea.  At the same time, I’d ensure those states put as much into the Federal coffers as they take out.

         Report

        • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to BlaiseP
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          says:

          Subject to some sanity checks, yes.

          We’re talking mostly about the 11 states from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Coast; I’m willing to consider Alaska and Hawaii as truly special cases, being isolated from the rest of us as they are (although some of the arguments in the next paragraph apply to them as well).  The most recent data I’ve seen is the Tax Foundation’s numbers for 2005.  Using their “deficit neutral federal expenditures” figure, five of the 11 states are already net donors: California, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington.  There are various ways you can weight the numbers in order to do aggregates; on a population-weighted basis, the 11-state region is overall a heavy net “donor”, getting back only about 90 cents per dollar of federal taxes paid.

          I would argue that there are certain categories of spending (and where there are dedicated taxes, revenues) that should be disregarded in the calculation for the purpose we’re discussing here.

          • New Mexico, for example, has several Indian reservations, four military bases (included the very large White Sands missile range), and a large national lab (Sandia). Relative to the state’s population, these bring large amounts of federal money in for purposes that the state can’t be expected to fund on its own (eg, New Mexico shouldn’t fund the entire national nuclear warhead design effort).
          • Arizona has a large population of retirees that bring in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid dollars (almost 50 percent of Medicaid spending nationally is now for dual-eligibles).  There’s nothing that Arizona can do to keep the retirees from moving there and bringing their federal dollars with them.
          • Road damage on the interstate highway system is done primarily by heavy trucks; Wyoming receives a disproportionate share (per capita) of federal highway funds; but if you look at the traffic on I-80, the vast majority of the damage is being done by trucks carrying cargo between points far to the east and west of Wyoming itself; that is, the bulk of the benefit from I-80 goes to other states, so it makes some sense that those other states should pay to maintain the road.
          • In several western states, where oil, gas and coal is produced on federal lands, the states receive “federal” dollars in place of the taxes that eastern states levy on private landowners.  Eastern states get to choose how high or low to set those taxes; the federal government decides how much it will share with the western states.

          Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to BlaiseP
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      I’m not sure that I’m against it, but what do people that want the electoral college reversed believe will happen if it does?  Do not the parties just change strategies?  I am having a hard time seeing where any real difference happens.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Tod Kelly
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        says:

        We’ve had fifteen elections result in a president with less than 50% of the vote.

        Rural states receive representation in the Electoral College far out of proportion to their numbers.   Furthermore, the fact that the winner takes all in each state distorts the process even more.

        Can anyone point to a reason to hang onto the Electoral College?Report

        • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to BlaiseP
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          says:

          None other than it’s what we’re already doing, and I am dubious that reversing it has the effect its opponents hope it will have.Report

          • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Tod Kelly
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            says:

            The Electoral College is the most undemocratic sort of bunkum I can think of at the present moment.  You are free to entertain your doubts.   The math is on my side.   The Senate already gives the little states enough of a leg up on the process.   About a third of the states should be made to re-enroll in the union, I’d put North and South Dakota together, there aren’t enough people in either state to form up a church choir between them but they get four goddamn senators.   That’s a gracious plenty.   Same goes for those barren wildernesses like Wyoming.  Washington DC has a higher population than Wyoming and gets no senators.

             Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to BlaiseP
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          says:

          “Can anyone point to a reason to hang onto the Electoral College?”

          It makes a 52%-48% election feel like a landslide?Report

          • Avatar mark boggs in reply to Jaybird
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            says:

            At first I was tempted to agree with you.  By having the winner take all in electoral votes by state, you really can have a 52-48 vote that seems like a landslide.  But we seem to be so divided between red/blue that it seems the winner is never really legitimate to the loser, regardless of popular vote.Report

            • Avatar Simon K in reply to mark boggs
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              Yes, but the winner feels legitimate to the winning side. If the fact they only won by 4% of the votes cast (and 20% of those eligible did not vote) were more obvious to them, maybe it would bring about a little humility?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Tod Kelly
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        says:

        Whenever they say something like “the electoral college gives disproportionate power to rural areas”, they are pretty much telling you.

        They want the rural areas to have proportionate power to the urban ones.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to BlaiseP
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      says:

      What about a plurality? In a case like 1992 or 1996, no candidate had a majority. Or would you have a runoff election?Report

  7. Avatar DensityDuck
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    says:

    I’d go with the original Sixteenth Amendment passed by the House in 1789:

    The powers delegated by the Constitution to the government of the United States, shall be exercised as therein appropriated, so that the Legislative shall never exercise the powers vested in the Executive or Judicial; nor the Executive the powers vested in the Legislative or Judicial; nor the Judicial the powers vested in the Legislative or Executive.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to DensityDuck
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      says:

      This sounds like the kind of amendment that a supporter would find so clear as to make sure there were never a question of power jurisdiction again, but would lead to endless court battles each application of power.

      Which, for the purposes of this exercise is good.  But aside from that, I think if you had passed this 100 years ago we’d be where we are now anyway.Report

      • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Tod Kelly
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        says:

        We would not have had the massive expansion of an unelected Federal regulatory bureaucracy that holds literal life-and-death powers over US citizens, though.  If everything that affects the citizens must be a law voted on by Congress, then we can at least get rid of the people who made rules we don’t like.  Who can we threaten to vote out of office to influence, say, the FDA’s position on experimental cancer medications?Report

  8. Avatar Steve S.
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    says:

    Section 1. Article Two of the United States Constitution is hereby repealed.

    Section 2.  [rather lengthy as it would reconstitute executive functions into Article One]Report

  9. Avatar Jesse Ewiak
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    says:

    A couple of big ones I’m split on. It’s either..

    1) Reform the Senate to either destroy it or make it a majoritarian institution where 16% of the country can’t block the wishes of the other 84%.

    2) Public financing of elections

    3) Some form of FDR’s Economic Bill of RightsReport

    • Avatar Chris in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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      I was about to say get rid of the Senate or reform it significantly, but you bet me to it. I was also about to say a living wage and right to health care amendment, too, but your 3 beats me to that. Short of getting rid of the whole damn thing (yeah, I don’t like our Constitution), that’s the direction I’d go in, but like I said, you beat me to it.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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      says:

      Jesse & Chris, I’m curious.  Why would you get rid of the Senate?  In what way does it impede the best governance of the country?  (I have never heard this voiced before.)

      Also, in what way does the Senate represent only 16% of the country?  Who are they, and who are the other 84%?  This one really confuses me.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Tod Kelly
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        The argument is that 16% of the population lives in enough smallpop states that they can block legislation. The main argument against the Senate is the comparative representation of a citizen of Wyoming versus one of California. This strikes a lot of people as undemocratic.

        Personally, I would vociferously oppose getting rid of the senate*. I’d be open to redrafting our senate to be more like Germany’s, but enough people want to get rid of it altogether that I would oppose any attempt at opening that can of worms.

        * – Of course, living in a smallpop state, I benefit from the senate. However, my views didn’t change when I relocated to a largerpop state.Report

        • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Will Truman
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          says:

          I get it.  I would absolutely not want to get rid of the Senate, which I think often acts as the calmer, bigger picture body of Congress.  Whenever you hear of some crackpot bill that a new majority of on of the houses has passed, it’s always from the House – and is always quashed by the Senate.

          I’ve come to think of that as kind of their main job.Report

        • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Will Truman
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          says:

          What Will said. Well, the first paragraph anyway. My personal preferences for reforming the Senate, going from most likely to least likely is the following.

          1) Eliminate the filibuster and make the Senate a majoritarian institution.

          2) Add ‘bonus’ Senate seats for each state per 2.5 or 5 million people in a state with a population over say, 10 million.

          3) Reform the Senate voting to make it more like Austraila – ie. There’s 3 or 4 Senate seats up at one time.

          4) Get rid of the thing or make it as important as the upper house in most of Europe.Report

        • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Will Truman
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          says:

          What Will said.Report

      • Avatar Pub Editor in reply to Tod Kelly
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        says:

        Tod, the idea is that the twenty-five least populous states (Wyoming, Vermont, North Dakota…through Kentucky, I think) have only ~16% of the U.S. population, but those states control 50% of the seats in the Senate.  So, if the Senators from those states banded together, they could defeat a bill even if it was supported by senators representing the other 25 states.

        Basically, it’s a complaint that Wyoming (pop. 568.000) and Vermont (pop. 626,000) each have the same number of senators, and therefore the same voting power, as California (pop. 38 million) and Texas (pop. 26 million).

        On a more general level, the U.S. Senate is often where ideas from the House go to die of neglect. Many populist-minded folks (not a derisive term) see the Senate as frustrating the will of the more popularly representative House, much like the House of Lords inhibited the House of Commons in the UK in the 19th Century.  In the UK, they gradually disempowered the Lords, so that the Commons basically controls the government.

        Mind, I personally do not want to abolish the U.S. Senate, but this is my understanding of this line of reasoning.Report

        • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Pub Editor
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          Actually, it’s 40%, not 50%. You’re correct on the rest. I can at least understand a Senate with a majority passing things without having a “majority” of the population. My problem is when 40 Senator’s, overwhelmingly from low population states block things that just aren’t popular among the Senate, but among the populace.

          I don’t deny the Senate has stopped bad things from happening. But, on the balance, looking at the history of the Senate, it’s been a place where progressive ideas go to die. The sad truth is that most of the big change in this country from the pre-New Deal todays happened when the DNC had massive supermajorities over a period of about eight years (1933-37 ; 1965-67 ; 09-11).

           Report

          • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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            Yeah, I think I’m not convinced that’s a bad thing.

            The thought of us going, for example, from a package of [SSM, funding for safety nets for the poor, PBS, far-reaching affirmative action requirements] to [all SSM outlawed, scrapping federal funding of any safety nets, dismantling PBS, killing all affirmative action laws and regulations], back and forth every two years, feels really, really bad for the governing of a nation.

            I’m willing to trade good ideas taking much, much longer to pass in exchange for not having to deal with constant red-meat baiting laws by the majority coupled with overall legislative instability.Report

            • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Tod Kelly
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              says:

              The problem is, when you look at countries where the Parliament is the end all and be all, they don’t swing back ‘n’ forth. When Maggie Thatcher got into office in 1979, she didn’t try to abolish the NHS. When the Social Democrats get back into office in Germany, they probably won’t change much of the changes in welfare that Merkel has pushed through.

              Now, I will admit, the Republican Party is more insane than most parties that can into power in the modern world, but if you get into office and try to shift things a bunch, you’ll quickly lose your next election.

              I’ll also note the Senate, outside of civil rights, was a majoritarian institution from the post-WWII era to basically the early 90’s. LBJ never worried about getting 60 votes for Medicare. He worried about 50.Report

            • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Tod Kelly
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              The Senate is where bad ideas go to die–per Mr. Madison’s design [Federalist 63 & 64].

              The Obamacare controversy is largely due to its being slipped [pushed, jammed, forced] trough with the slimmest of majorities and virtually zero support from one of the parties.

              There have been few controversies like it, beceuase there have been so few major changes pushes through with zero consensus.  The GOP of 1940-60s threatened to undo the New Deal, but even when it held Congress in the 50s, never really got there.  So too, most of LBJ’s Great Society survives as well. There is on the whole an American consensus for them.

               Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Tom Van Dyke
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                says:

                Are we really back to this myth that Medicare, Social Security, Civil Rights, and other laws weren’t massively divisive at the time?Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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                says:

                Poke through the votes and get back to us on that, Jesse. IIRC, they passed comfortably, but pls do disabuse if not so.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Tom Van Dyke
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                says:

                Just because something pass comfortably didn’t mean it wasn’t controversial. Otherwise, Ronald Reagan wouldn’t have recorded an album against Medicare for example. In forty years, another version of TVD will be talking to another version of me how, “there was an American consensus on Social Security, Medicare, the ACA, but this newest law to subsidize brainboxes goes too far and was pushed through and with zero support of one of the major parties.”

                Also, most of the Republican’s who voted for Medicare and Civil Rights couldn’t win a Republican primary today.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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                says:

                So you’re stipulating that unlike Obamacare, those programs passed comfortably, Jesse?  Good.  That was my point.  What yours is exactly, I do not know.

                BHO’s one-man Unitary Executive war on Khaddafi was “controversial,” I suppose, but then again, that amounted to not much.

                 Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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                says:

                Considering modern conservatives now consider a vote for cloture support for something for the purpose of political ads, the ACA passed with more support in the Senate than Medicare originally did.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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                says:

                Mr. Ewiak, in 1965, Medicare passed the House 313-115 and the Senate 68-11.  This is why I weary of these challenges.  You could have looked this up yourself, you could have got back to me and acknowledged that my recollection was correct.

                Instead, I do all the work, and you go your merry way after wasting our time, impugning my accuracy, and obscuring my point, which holds.  That’s not right, man.

                 

                http://www.ssa.gov/history/tally65.htmlReport

              • Avatar Ryan Bonneville in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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                says:

                Oh good, showy protestations of victimization. I missed that.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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                says:

                After we get done pointing and laughing at Tom Van Dyke, can we compare how Obamacare was passed to how Johnsoncare was passed?

                Or has that moment passed as well?Report

              • Avatar Ryan Bonneville in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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                says:

                Sure we can compare, but Obamacare was passed by a large majority (in the Senate), legally. Why the hell are we belaboring this? It’s a legitimate law passed legitimately. I am just so fucking tired of having this debate. It’s stupid.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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                says:

                I admit, I goofed and confused the actual vote with a “headcount” I read about LBJ having before the vote. My apologies for that part.

                Regardless, despite the vote, the reason why Medicare, the New Deal, and such wasn’t repealed  wasn’t because they were popular at passage, but because the were popular once they were implemented. A Republican Congress and President in 1936 could’ve easily strangled the New Deal in it’s infancy. If Bob Taft had won the Presidency and presided over the modern GOP, he could’ve easily reversed large chunks of the New Deal.

                However I will ask, how many of those Republicans could win an election in the GOP today? Yes, if you’re party is full of moderates and liberals, a bill can be bipartisan. But, when it’s only full of conservatives, things will be polarized.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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                says:

                I thought that the PPACA was originally a budget bill that was completely rewritten and then sent “back” to the House in its rewritten form.

                Is that significantly different from what happened?

                If it’s not, is it significantly different from how Johnsoncare was passed?

                If it *IS* significantly different from how Johnsoncare was passed, are we allowed to talk about what its significant difference represents?Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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                says:

                The Senate rewrote a House bill, but it still passed 60-39. It then went to the House that passed it 219-212. Basically, what happened is that instead of ping-ponging a bill multiple times over months, they found a way to do in a shorter way that the governing majorities of both Houses agreed too. I have no doubt LBJ would’ve done the same thing under the same political circumstances.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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                says:

                Imagine, just for a second, the authorization for kinectic action in Iraq passing the same way.

                Just pretend.

                Are you saying that you wouldn’t say that that was a little fishy, just a little?Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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                says:

                Nope. Literally dozens of laws are passed this way every year. The ACA is just the biggest.Report

              • Avatar Ryan Bonneville in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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                says:

                Sigh.

                A) That is not what happened. The Senate passed the bill 60-39 on December 24, 2009. Then the Democrats lost the Senate seat in Massachusetts, so they no longer had the votes to pass a bill reconciling the House and Senate versions. There was some talk about “deem and pass”, but that didn’t happen. Instead, there was some horse trading with the anti-abortion part of the Democratic caucus in the House, and they agreed to support it. It passed the House 219-212 on March 21, 2010, was signed by Obama, and became the law of the land. Nothing that happened was in any way legally shady, even if you think “deem and pass” would have been.

                B) You are allowed to talk about any damn fool thing you want to talk about. But pretending that a bill that passed the House and Senate, then required a little bit of creativity to get turned into a law because 59% wasn’t a real majority in the Senate, was actually “rammed” down anyone’s throat, or that it was some grave miscarriage of democracy, is sheer dumb ideological fishwittery. And it’s incredibly boring and tiresome. Just because Tom is the only right-wing blowhard who spews talking points doesn’t mean he should get more consideration than the more-common liberal blowhards who pop up here and there.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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                says:

                JB, the facts are not of interest here.  Bringing them up is stupid, I concede, not for the reasons given, but because it’s a waste of time.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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                says:

                “The Senate passed the bill 60-39 on December 24, 2009”

                What bill was that? I was sure that it was a rewritten bill (and rewritten from an *ENTIRELY* different bill). Is that not the case?

                The Wikipedia says that the bill was introduced in the House as “Service Members Home Ownership Tax Act of 2009”, is that not accurate?

                Is that not fishy?Report

              • Avatar Ryan Bonneville in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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                says:

                Also, honestly, at this point, if we started a war that way, I might just be glad it didn’t involve the president unilaterally declaring the war or Congress voting for it 90-10. If only you could get 40% opposition to a war !Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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                says:

                On the upside, you could argue that the PPACA originally passed the house 416-0!

                And if someone disagreed with how you were framing that, you could call them stupid.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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                says:

                Nope. Refer to Ryan’s post. This happens many times when Congress has come to an agreement on a bill after the House passes their first version, but since it’s a bill that involves taxes, it has to “start” in the House. So, the Senate find a ‘tax’ bill already passed by the House, amends the new bill into it, and sends it back to the House for repassage. Just because you don’t know of it doesn’t make it shady.Report

              • Avatar Ryan Bonneville in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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                says:

                Jay: It’s a bit of a dodge because the Senate isn’t allowed to introduce revenue bills. Traditionally, the Senate takes an existing revenue bill, passes an amendment that changes the text, and then goes from there.

                You aren’t wrong if you think this kind of skirts around the spirit of the Constitution, but from what I understand it’s a fairly common practice. PPACA, as Jesse says, gets more attention because it’s controversial in general, but it’s one among a ton of things that work this way. It remains the case that the bill *was* passed by both Houses.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jesse Ewiak
                Ignored
                says:

                “after the House passes their first version”

                So your argument is that the first version of the PPACA was the Service Members Home Ownership Tax Act of 2009?

                And you don’t see how anybody could call that fishy?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jesse Ewiak
                Ignored
                says:

                “It remains the case that the bill *was* passed by both Houses.”

                I’m not arguing that it wasn’t.

                I would, however, argue that it passed in a significantly different way than Johnsoncare passed and that those who see how it passed as “fishy” are standing on firmer ground rather than stupider.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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                says:

                No, as Ryan said, the first version was what passed the House. Another different version passed the Senate. Instead of going through a reconciliation process that the GOP had publicly claimed they were going to try to wreck through procedural muck, the DNC used a procedure of their own that had been used by both parties multiple times in the past.

                Of course, getting back to the point this thread, if the Senate was a majoritarian institution without a filibuster, there would’ve been no “shadiness” at all. 🙂Report

              • Avatar Ryan Bonneville in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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                says:

                Is your claim that their argument is that it’s “fishy” because it’s a revenue bill that was introduced in the Senate? Is that the entirety of the “fishy” position?

                Maybe that’s not stupid, but it’s not exactly penetrating analysis either.

                EDIT: Notice the face of my avatar. That’s the face that argument makes me make.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Jesse Ewiak
                Ignored
                says:

                Also, Jaybird, Johnson would’ve been perfectly happy doing the same thing in the same situation. So, as TVD said, Johnson didn’t pass Medicare because there was “consensus.” Johnson passed Medicare because he thought it was right and he had 50+ votes.

                As been noted, this is a procedure done multiple times with multiple bills, large and small.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jesse Ewiak
                Ignored
                says:

                That’s not the end of it! JB will find new and better arguments for why that whole thing was ‘fishy’. And why our government ought to be Dismantled, even tho it’s too broken to even do that to itsownself, but if it could there’d be hell to pay no doubt!Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jesse Ewiak
                Ignored
                says:

                To be perfectly honest, I don’t think I have to.

                If the premise is that Obamacare is significantly different from Johnsoncare in how it was passed, I think we’ve established that. Good enough for me.

                It even finally gets fully implemented over the next couple of years. After that happens, we can discuss whether the reasons we needed to pass it came to fruition and whether the things its supporters said it would prevent were actually prevented.Report

              • Avatar Ryan Bonneville in reply to Tom Van Dyke
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                says:

                Is a 60-vote majority really that slim? We could disqualify most presidents from holding their office if we insisted on 60% majorities.

                Your claim is basically nonsense in service of ideology.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Tom Van Dyke
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                says:

                The Obamacare controversy is largely due to its being slipped [pushed, jammed, forced] trough with the slimmest of majorities and virtually zero support from one of the parties.

                I think this confuses support for a policy (the GOP did in the 90’s) with partisan opposition for purely political reasons (the GOP of the oughts). Tom, the more you talk about this stuff, the more you confirm the idea that the GOP and conservatism generally is defined by opposition to libruls.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Stillwater
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                says:

                Mr. Still, the theoretical support by some GOPers in the ’90s for some things resembling some facets of Obamacare is a thin argument, although it’s becoming a staple of these disputations.  But it was never drafted, never voted upon.  It is ether.

                I certainly won’t argue that opposition to the other party’s ideas and and conduct isn’t part of the game, as you note—although you seem to attribute the phenomenon to the GOP rather than to the nature of politics, and so, I object.  Why, just today, a poll reveals the majority of liberal Democrats approve of Gitmo and drones now that a Democrat is president.

                The poll shows that 53 percent of self-identified liberal Democrats — and 67 percent of moderate or conservative Democrats — support keeping Guantanamo Bay open, even though it emerged as a symbol of the post-Sept. 11 national security policies of George W. Bush, which many liberals bitterly opposed.

                Repulsive liberal hypocrisy extends far beyond the issue of Guantanamo. 

                 

                I was going to write this one up, but I’m not really into the hypocrisy gotcha game.  It’s the nature of the partisan beast, and a tu quoque would be entirely proper here: I would expect a Republican equivalent wouldn’t be hard to find.

                BTW—the quote above is from Glenn Greenwald, not me.  Would I have written “repulsive liberal hypocrisy,” well, it would not be worth the bother, things being what they are.  I’ll leave it to him; he’s allowed.

                http://www.salon.com/2012/02/08/repulsive_progressive_hypocrisy/singleton/Report

              • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to Tom Van Dyke
                Ignored
                says:

                How is Greenwald allowed to say stuff like “repulsive progressive hypocrisy”? He’s not a progressive himself, but a civil libertarian. And he’s clearly shown repeatedly that he doesn’t give a damn about anything other than his pious pronouncements of purity and greatness.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Nob Akimoto
                Ignored
                says:

                Hate speech! We need to excise certain phrases from his work to make them acceptable for public consumption!

                (Unless I misunderstand what you mean when you ask How is Greenwald allowed to say stuff like “repulsive progressive hypocrisy”? Am I allowed to think that Ted Haggard is a hypocrite for smoking meth and having sex with a gay prostitute despite my atheist libertarian leanings?)Report

              • Avatar Ryan Bonneville in reply to Nob Akimoto
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                says:

                TVD said he was “allowed”. The implication being that Greenwald can say mean things about liberals because he is one. Nob was pushing back against that.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Nob Akimoto
                Ignored
                says:

                Mr. Stillwater, surely you’re not saying there are no repulsive progressive hypocrites, who were all on about Bush shredding the Constitution but have now dummied up now that Obama has done the same, if not surpassed him.

                And you’re going to have to substantiate your “GOP supported Obamacare before it was Obamacare” quite a bit more than you have.  It remains ether.

                You also must account for the Dems presumably opposing Obamacare back when it was GOPCare.  ;-PReport

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Nob Akimoto
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                says:

                Tom, this might get nuanced so I hope I don’t lose you. But here’s the lay of the land. One side (the Democrats) puts forward a proposal – Hillary care in the 90s, Romney-care in the oughts. The other side (the GOP) responds to this by putting forward counter proposals – Romney care in the 90s and Ryan Care in the oughts. But interestingly, the roles are never reverse!

                The facts are that the GOP hasn’t put forward a proposal when they have the power to enact it, whether it’s eliminating Medicare (the Ryan Plan), or introducing Romney Care (which they could have done in the oughts), or any other significant reform to health care or future liabilities. But the Democrats have! They’ve actively pursued health care reforms on the social access side of things, on the insurance accountability side, on the Medicare funding side. And even when the Democrats propose a policy that the GOP endorsed only a few years prior, the GOP rejects – OPPOSES! – that plan. And what they offer is garbage in return.

                If you don’t see that, then I’ll have to revise my view of your objectivity about politics. But the fact that you can’t see that the GOP is defined by opposing Democrats more than they’re defined by positive policy proposal makes me seriously question your honesty as an interlocutor.

                 Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Nob Akimoto
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                says:

                You’re changing the subject, Mr. Still, and cannot show the GOP bill that was tantamount to Obamacare, because there isn’t one.    I will not question your honesty, as you have threatened mine here, but neither do I wish to continue this under your sword of Damocles.

                Actually, what I attempted here by dragging in the Greenwald thing, was to offer a tu quoque rather than a “Dems are worse” argument.  But even such an accommodation isn’t acceptable to you.

                Obamacare was shoved down the American people’s throats, achieving narrow passage via pushing the limits of legislative legality.  In 2012, it remains a split decision among the electorate.

                It has always been my argument that such major steps should enjoy consensus, not brute majoritarianism, and a principled argument to the contrary is not on offer.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Nob Akimoto
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                says:

                consensus, not brute majoritarianism,

                The Senate had a 60-40 split in favor of something at least as liberal as final Act. After Kennedy, it was 59-41. The House was wildly supportive of something even more liberal.

                I wonder what you mean by ‘consensus here’? Is it popular vote? That seems like something you would otherwise object to Tom.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Nob Akimoto
                Ignored
                says:

                Show me the 1990s GOP version of Obamacare.  It doesn’t exist: it’s a half-truth Obamaoid talking point meme fantasy.

                You’re explicitly ignoring the election of Scott Brown by the people of Massachusetts, a late attempt to stop Obamacare, and ignoring the circus that surrounded its squeaking through the House with only that Asian fellow from the GOP’s vote.  [He lost the next election to the Dem.]

                Ignoring that the Senate bill that was passed was never designed to be the final bill.  Ignoring the 2010 elections, ignoring the polls in 2012 that give Obamacare a 50-50 at best.

                I’m trying to discuss the facts of the actual issue at hand, Mr. Still, and taking great pains to not fold it into a meta-narrative of your party sucks worse than mine.  That shit leads nowhere.  And we have arrived at your preferred destination.

                 

                 Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Nob Akimoto
                Ignored
                says:

                Tom, one way to express the facts is to say that on final vote, it was close. Another way to present the facts is to say that the final vote was close because huge sections of the House Dem caucus rejected the ‘cadillac tax’ and some other provisions of the bill they thought weren’t liberal enough.

                So yeah. You can say you’re talking about the facts. But you should also concede you’re doing so without a great level of specificity.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Nob Akimoto
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                says:

                the election of Scott Brown by the people of Massachusetts, a late attempt to stop Obamacare,

                That’s one of the boldest lines of horseshit ever written by anyone on these here pages.  Nice revisionist history there, sir.   “The people” of Massachusetts were not attempting to stop Obamacare.  The liberals of Massachusetts were attempting to support Obamacare, the conservatives of Massachusetts were attempting to stop it, and the middle-of-the-roaders were looking at the worst political campaign in history by Brown’s opponent and saying, “he seems all right, and a lot less boneheaded than her.”Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Nob Akimoto
                Ignored
                says:

                You also didn’t answer the ‘consensus’ question, Tom. Which is part of the reason people think you aren’t the most honest of interlocutors.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Nob Akimoto
                Ignored
                says:

                Mr. Still, we’re finished here.  I will not question your honesty, nor have you impugn mine.  I have stated my case and facts, and if you believe you’ve stated one, then there is no point in us continuing what is becoming increasingly unpleasant.

                I stand by my original 2 core assertions:

                The Senate is where bad ideas go to die–per Mr. Madison’s design [Federalist 63 & 64].

                _____________

                The Obamacare controversy is largely due to its being slipped [pushed, jammed, forced] trough with the slimmest of majorities and virtually zero support from one of the parties.

                There have been few controversies like it, beceuase there have been so few major changes pushes through with zero consensus. Report

              • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to Nob Akimoto
                Ignored
                says:

                What about Medicare Modernization Act that was passed on a 54-44 vote in the US Senate and a really weird 220 margin vote in the House?

                Is that a “rammed down the throat of Congress” bill, too, Ward?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Nob Akimoto
                Ignored
                says:

                Don’t be like that Tom. I just asked you a simple question: if majority House support and 59 Senators doesn’t constitute consensus, then what does? It seems like a fair enough issue to pursue, since that was the sole criterion by which you challenged the legitimacy of the PPACA.

                Just answer the question bro!Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Nob Akimoto
                Ignored
                says:

                Heh. Well it is sorta funny. And if I’m understanding you correctly here, the debating tactic which strikes me as so transparent – but my opponents of a certain stripe apparently remain unaware of – is that arguments which proceed along one line miraculously change to another line when the previous line no longer leads anywhere. It’s as if they really don’t have a specific argument against that view, but rather a general sentiment that the view must be wrong.

                It’s a wonder to behold!Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Nob Akimoto
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                says:

                Good.  You two play with each other and leave the adults alone.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Nob Akimoto
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                says:

                Mr. “I’m going to take my ball and go home” wants to pretend he’s the adult?  How cute is that?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Tom Van Dyke
                Ignored
                says:

                Tom, what’s the point of that quoted link? To show that liberal’s also don’t support ‘liberal’ policy? But if liberals don’t support it, then who does? Or maybe the better question to ask is, why does anyone think that liberals support the closure of Gitmo when the polls clearly show that they don’t, as your ‘evidence’ seems to demonstrate?

                The only way to make sense of it, I think, is to suppose that this is all part of the ‘liberal media’ conspiracy which drives political issues. If not that, then the argument you’re making is entirely incoherent.

                There’s a fact of the matter here, Tom. Conservatives embraced Romney-Obama care in the 90s because it opposed the liberal view of single payer. And they now reject it because Romney-Obama-care is supported by liberals. The evidence is that conservatives don’t have an alternative plan other than the Ryan Plan which effectively eliminates Medicare (and gives the wealthiest Americans a substantital tax break along the way!) leaving seniors at mercy of the private sector which couldn’t meet their needs to begin with.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Tom Van Dyke
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                says:

                Mr. Still, you want to ignore all other factors and box me into answering yr loaded question?

                Mr. Akimoto attempts a similar technique with Medicare Part D, as if the Dems would have voted nay on that half-a-loaf and preferred no Rx $$ for seniors instead.

                That’s sophistry, gentlemen, and is no attempt toward pursuing the truth of these matters.

                To Messrs. Stillwater and Bonneville, I spent quite a lot of effort in making my case and linking the particulars of it—only to have them completely ignored.  Yes, I have been victimized: robbed of my time and good faith.  But that’s my fault, not yours.

                 Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Tom Van Dyke
                Ignored
                says:

                That’s sophistry,

                Drink!Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Tom Van Dyke
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                says:

                Tom, I get your point, but I’d also remind that much of the current HCR is taken from the GOP.  The strategy with Obama, since his election, has been to oppose anything – even a tax reduction – just for the sake of opposing it.

                Which in itself says nothing of what the long term effects of HRC will be, good or bad, but to be fair, they were also opposing him telling kids they should stay in school.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Tod Kelly
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                says:

                Tod, the Dems cut the GOP out of the process.  That they “forced” passage is accurate. Recall also the Stupak business and BHO’s “executive order” substituted for what should actually be in the legislation.

                http://www.jillstanek.com/2012/02/someone-call-the-president-stupak-says-executive-order-bars-contraceptive-mandate/

                And if you don’t recall Pelosi’s pathetic “We Have to Pass the Bill So That You Can Find Out What Is In It”

                then all is epistemologically lost down the memory hole.

                 

                http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34692080/ns/health-health_care/t/dems-bypass-tradition-final-health-deal/#.TzRxqU4gej8

                updated 1/4/2010 4:35:02 PM ET

                WASHINGTON — House and Senate Democrats intend to bypass traditional procedures when they negotiate a final compromise on health care legislation, officials said Monday, a move that will exclude Republican lawmakers and reduce their ability to delay or force politically troubling votes in both houses.

                The unofficial timetable calls for final passage of the measure to remake the nation’s healthcare system by the time President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address, probably in early February.

                Democratic aides said the final compromise talks would essentially be a three-way negotiation involving top Democrats in the House and Senate and the White House, a structure that gives unusual latitude to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California.

                Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Tom Van Dyke
                Ignored
                says:

                Tom, I hate to harp on this, but what you present is just plain wrong. Factually wrong. But my biggest gripe is that you misuse the word ‘epsitemology’ to you’re own advantage. Propaganda isn’t epistomology. False beliefs aren’t accounted for it either. Epistemology is the study of what we know, not what we believe. Psychology and social science is more accurately the domain you’re referring to, since you’re talking about how people – like yourself 🙂 – hold false beliefs.Report

              • Avatar wardsmith in reply to Stillwater
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                says:

                @Still, Tom posted links that backup his claim. You merely refuted it with no links. Now perhaps if you would put up or shut up? Or are you learning from Kim?

                The Rebublicans, when they had the numbers enacted Medicare Part D. They received holy hell for it, losing their majority and getting lambasted by the left as well as by the AARP. The fact that it came in on time and under budget has escaped a lot of “epistemological” notice. 😉Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Stillwater
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                says:

                Mr. Stillwater, epistemology in this case is how you know what you know, because you are not in possession of the facts, nor do you offer them, only paraphrases and revisions of them. The trouble with our liberal friends is not that they are ignorant, but that they know so much that isn’t so.

                Obamacare was shoved down our throats by the slimmest of possible margins and by pressing the legislative process to its extreme allowable limits.  It remains a 50-50 deal at best in the eyes of the American public, and I do not think we should invoke major changes by majoritarianism.

                That’s my case, I’ve backed it up with the facts, and any disagreement can only be read as support for majoritarianism, because that’s what this is.  Consensus is nowhere in sight.

                 

                 Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater
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                says:

                Well, to both Tom and Ward, all I can say is what I wrote in a previous guest post: if there are no facts that we can agree on, then we have to look at the theories by which we determine the facts. To me, both of you seem incapable of seeing facts for what they are. Likewise, I’m sure, you feel the same way about me and my views. So facts are dismissed, as is TVD’s wont since for him, it’s all about coherence of theory.

                But I’ll say this, just to set the record straight. The Dems invited the GOP to play along in shaping the ACA legislation every step of the way. Amendments were read and argued, some were included. Hell, the legilsation was written by one of the most conservative Democratic Senators in the caucus!

                That you think it was written without GOP inclusion is either the GOP’s fault or your own misconception of the facts. And the assertion it was forced down the American people throats is no more nor less true of any other bill that has majority support in the House and 59 Senators supporting it.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater
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                says:

                epistemology in this case is how you know what you know

                See, I think this supports my contention that you don’t know what the word means. How people form their beliefs is the domain of psychology, or social science, or religious studies, or cultural anthropology, or public relations research. How people justify their beliefs, and determine whether their beliefs are true or not is the domain of epistemology.

                Just holding a belief doesn’t constitute a failure – on way or the other! – of epistemology.Report

              • Avatar wardsmith in reply to Stillwater
                Ignored
                says:

                Still I didn’t see your previous post that I remember and my memory isn’t too terribly weak. Perhaps if you graced us with a link to /that/ and hopefully within that OP you’ve got further links to buttress your position. Otherwise even to an impartial observer or a debate judge, this one comes down squarely in Tom’s corner. I guess I know what you think you know, the only epistemology remaining is how you /justify/ it. A link or three would be a good start. That’s all I said and you haven’t come clean yet.  [citation needed]Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater
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                says:

                Ward, it was the called Arguing Racism. It’s beyond the main page at this point. Please read it!

                But to the point at hand, simply citing one piece of evidence isn’t decisive wrt a situation which we all witnessed and lived through. What you’re suggesting here is akin to refuting someone’s belief that the civil war didn’t happen unless they can cite evidence that it did. Some stuff is just part of our basic knowledge and understanding of reality.

                So, to take it back to my guest post, the thesis was that some evidence which strikes people as obvious evidence of X is denied by their opponents on the grounds that interpreting evidence as being evidence X is question begging. My argument in the post is that that move – refuting prima facie evidence because of a theory – is itself question begging, since according to the theory (read the post!) there is no evidence which could sustain the initially proposed belief.

                I think this is a similar situation. Tom wants to use a single piece of evidence to counter what we all lived through, what we all experienced non-partisanly. His argument only make sense given a partisan theory. But that begs the question.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Tom Van Dyke
                Ignored
                says:

                the Dems cut the GOP out of the process.

                As a simple observation, that’s true enough.

                As a criticism, it’s the very peak of hypocrisy.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to James Hanley
                Ignored
                says:

                Not exactly true, though. I mean, Republicans may have forgotten about it, but I remember Max Baucus playing footsie with Charles Grassley and other Republican’s for a couple of months to try to convince them to do anything.

                Also, a decent chunk of Republican ideas were included in the final bill. Obviously, some of these are ‘duh’ ideas that would’ve been in the bill regardless, but it’s not like this was a bill written by Nancy Pelosi and Ted Kennedy’s Ghost. 🙂Report

              • Avatar wardsmith in reply to Tom Van Dyke
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                says:

                Ok Still, read your post which as you can see I never commented on (I doubt I even saw it). Regardless of the merits of /that/ argument you still didn’t provide any evidence. Perhaps you don’t know how to insert a link on this site? Therefore my take on your “debate” style is that you want to be taken as an authority on your own merits, ipse dixit.

                Only the most partisan of ideologues could deny the shenanigans that went on during the Obamacare legislation. The very fact that it was “passed” through cloture rather than the method that has been used for 225 years prior should have caused some eyebrows to raise. The cloture vote was 60-40 in the Senate along party lines. Debate was stifled. The further “passage” by the Congress via a “procedural” vote likewise was engineered to stifle dissent, amendments or debate. The Democrats had the numbers and the Democrats shoved it down America’s throat. Regardless of the merits, the outcome of the 2010 election showed America’s distaste for having something shoved down its throat. You can call that reaching across party lines all you want, but the facts on the ground and in evidence speak for themselves. I’d hate for you to join the Kimmie camp of ipse dixit ditziness.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to wardsmith
                Ignored
                says:

                The Democrats had the numbers and the Democrats shoved it down America’s throat.

                More or less.

                Regardless of the merits, the outcome of the 2010 election showed America’s distaste for having something shoved down its throat.

                This doesn’t follow, though.  Congressional swing during a President’s term isn’t exactly unprecedented.  And I really, really doubt you can make this statement with any sort of reasonable surety.

                Remember, I don’t like PPACA either.  But I just don’t think there’s sufficient reasonable evidence to say that the midterm election of 2010 was driven even in a large part by public displeasure with PPACA.

                The Democrats lost 68 house seats and 6 senate seats, the averages are 30 and 4.  Reagan, Eisenhower, Hoover… they all lost more than 4 Senate seats in a midterm.

                Midterm elections historically draw less voting activity than Presidential elections, and midterm elections also trend higher in those states with gubernatorial elections than those that don’t.  Of the 36 states that elected a governor in 2010, most went R.

                I’d have to dig into congressional races in all those states, and compare returns to those states without gubernatorial races, and try to correct for a bunch of other confounding factors before I’d even come close to a reasonable guess as to the ultimate causes of the 2010 election returns.Report

              • Avatar wardsmith in reply to wardsmith
                Ignored
                says:

                Patrick, make sure you include data like this in your analysis. Democrat losses were wide and deep, across every state line (AND in every state legislature including traditional blue states). Repudiation comes to mind, there are other words, historic, shellacked, devastating, YMMV.Report

              • Avatar Jeff in reply to Tom Van Dyke
                Ignored
                says:

                “the Dems cut the GOP out of the process.”

                If you’re trying to show your good intentions, YR DOIN IT RONG.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Tom Van Dyke
                Ignored
                says:

                Tom, I see where you’re getting at here, but it does seem that you pick up the story well after months and months of attempted negotiations.

                Is going ahead after so many failed attempts at negotiation when they had the majority all along railroading?  Well, I suppose it’s an “I say potato” kind of thing.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Tod Kelly
                Ignored
                says:

                They railroaded their own, like Bart Stupak, as well, Tod.  Then there was the Cornhusker Kickback, where they bought off Ben Nelson.  We don’t remember this stuff, we flushed it down the memory hole.

                 

                There are many other irregularities to this abomination of a bill, as WSmith chronicles—and far more important is Pelosi’s “pass it to find out what’s in it.” than this minor point of the GOP being shut out.  [Which itself was precedent-breaking, but is minimized here.  It was a waste of time linking substantively to it.]

                We’re not really interested in discussing the matter, just trying to make it disappear by picking out the most minor of points and ignoring the elephants in the room.  We still don’t know what’s in the damn bill.  The Obama administration rolls out a new wrinkle every day.Report

          • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Jesse Ewiak
            Ignored
            says:

            on the balance, looking at the history of the Senate, it’s been a place where progressive ideas go to die

            I’m not persuaded that, “it blocks my preferred policies” is really a strong argument.  Once you generalize it to the other side, you’ll see why.Report

            • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to James Hanley
              Ignored
              says:

              Why not? The original Senate was created because the small states were going to get run over by the big states preferred policies. It wasn’t any great philosophical debate, it was nitty ‘n’ gritty power politics.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Jesse Ewiak
                Ignored
                says:

                Jesse,

                It wasn’t about ensuring that “my side wins,” it was about ensuring that “my side at least has a fair shot at winning.”

                The difference, though subtle, is crucial.  This goes back to a complaint I made recently on another thread about the basic hypocritical approach in politics and political debate, an effort to either rig the rules in such a way that they favor my side or to declare that my side doesn’t have to follow the same rules as the other side.

                I say everyone plays by the same rules, and the rules are designed to not make things easier for one side than the other.

                But then, I care a lot more about process than I do about particular policy goals.  And I think people who care more about particular policy goals than they do about process don’t realize what a dangerous game they play.  As legal scholar Alex Bickel wrote, “the highest morality is almost always the morality of process.” (Note the “almost” in there–it’s not an absolute.)

                I think a person can legitimately argue against the current structure and rules of the Senate without much difficulty.  But your grounds, that it’s making your side’s policies difficult, isn’t one of those legitimate arguments.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to James Hanley
                Ignored
                says:

                I fail to see a system where the majority of the population might actually have a majority of the policy determining power is less fair than the current Senate.

                Everybody will play by the same rules. Get to a majority and pass your agenda, assuming it’s Constitutional and all that.

                Right now, the Majority whether it’s liberal, conservative, or moderate actually can’t pass it’s preferred policy. Right now, the game is “rigged” in favor of the small population states.

                As Ryan said, democracy doesn’t mean I won’t always win. But, it will mean the majority of the populace will win without an opportunity for a small sliver of the country blocking them.

                 Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Jesse Ewiak
                Ignored
                says:

                “I fail to see a system where the majority of the population might actually have a majority of the policy determining power is less fair than the current Senate.”

                Proposition 8 was passed by majority vote.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to DensityDuck
                Ignored
                says:

                It’s a good thing I noted the Constitutional part then. If somehow Rick Santorum won a majority in the Senate and House as he became POTUS, I firmly believe that he’d be able to privatize Social Security, gut Medicare, and eliminate the income tax if he wanted too.

                However, if he wanted to ban abortion, he’d have to get the OK from the Supreme’s after passing said law.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to DensityDuck
                Ignored
                says:

                Proposition 8 was passed by majority vote.

                It’s a good thing I noted the Constitutional part then

                Well, that remains to be seen now, doesn’t it?  I mean, in my very anti-government power view of the Constitution same-sex marriage is a protected right,  but the Constitution doesn’t exactly make that clear and it takes a bit of fancy interpretatin’ to make the case.  The unavoidable real world truth is that it’s not at all certain that Prop 8 is unconstitutional, no matter how desperately I want it to be.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to DensityDuck
                Ignored
                says:

                I think this is true, James.  I suspect that over time existing law will bend in that direction, but perhaps better to simply ratify an amendment and be done with it.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Jesse Ewiak
                Ignored
                says:

                I fail to see a system where the majority of the population might actually have a majority of the policy determining power is less fair than the current Senate.

                Have you read Federalist 10?  Madison’s whole “tyranny of the majority” bit?

                I wouldn’t want to give the minority power to pass legislation, but I’m not too bothered by giving them power to block  legislation.

                 Report

              • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to James Hanley
                Ignored
                says:

                …unfortunately they also take grand standing to new extremes that they impede things like ratification of treaties for the sake of scoring cheap political points.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to James Hanley
                Ignored
                says:

                I wouldn’t want to give the minority power to pass legislation, but I’m not too bothered by giving them power to block legislation.

                But if entrenched institutional behavior already favors the minority, then it amounts to the same thing, no?Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley
                Ignored
                says:

                Nob,

                Yes, but there are no perfect systems.  So we have to decide if that cost is greater or less than the cost of majority tyranny.

                Reasonable people can disagree on that, of course.  (Although super-reasonable people always agree with me.)Report

              • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to James Hanley
                Ignored
                says:

                I think there’s a substantial difference, too, between “preventing majority tyrrany” and the current “60 votes to end a filibuster and 1 vote to put a hold on executive appointments” nonsense.Report

              • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to James Hanley
                Ignored
                says:

                To clarify.

                In general I don’t think the current composition of the Senate is such a bad thing if it’s ONLY function was to serve as a veto point.

                Given that it’s capable of actually introducing and amending legislation, the heavy unevenness in proportion of representation becomes a substantially larger problem.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley
                Ignored
                says:

                @Stillwater,

                if entrenched institutional behavior already favors the minority, then it amounts to the same thing, no?

                I don’t think so.  I come from a Burkean perspective–a system that favors the preservation of the legal status quo, while necessarily imperfect, is safer than a system that favors legal innovation.  The system should–obviously, I think–not be so rigid that problems of the status quo can’t be overcome, but it should be–less obviously–rigid enough that the status quo isn’t changed on the whim of a slight majority that perceives a problem in the status quo.  (Perceive is purposely chosen here, because it allows for both the possibility that the problem is real and the possibility that it isn’t, without implying judgement that either one or the other is necessarily the case.)

                The assumption here, in line with Burke, is that when something is perceived as a problem only by a part of the population, we should be very cautious about making changes, but when someone is a real for sure undeniable problem we’re likely to have large portions of the population, cutting across diverse groups, agreeing that it’s a problem.  And when there’s that kind of broad-based support, change will be achievable.

                Now, where specifically we draw that line is a very fair point of debate.  But I’m staying out of the question of whether it should stay at 60 senators, or change to 55, or increase to 65.  All I’ll say is that I’m very comfortable with it being greater than 51.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Jesse Ewiak
                Ignored
                says:

                “Why not? The original Senate was created because the small states were going to get run over by the big states preferred policies. It wasn’t any great philosophical debate, it was nitty ‘n’ gritty power politics.”

                Yes, but in that case, each side got a power block to off set the other.  In order for something to pass, it had to be something that would be advantageous for small and big states alike.  In fact, it’s still that way, and this seems like a good thing.Report

              • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to Tod Kelly
                Ignored
                says:

                Of course now the disparities in populations between states is MUCH bigger…As in 100 fold. Rather than the 5-10 fold in 1783.Report

              • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to Nob Akimoto
                Ignored
                says:

                Which is to say… I think the Senate’s lack of proportionality is a lot worse now than it was in 1790’s census, and is bound to get worse as demographic trends favor high population states like California, Texas and New York over low population ones like Wyoming or Alaska.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Nob Akimoto
                Ignored
                says:

                Yes, but I’m not getting where it’s a bad thing.  If, for example, I live in a city that has a 5% black population, I’m not sure  that moving to a system where the 95% can just push s**t onto the minority.  That our system works like that on an individual level is, I believe, I good thing.

                And I think the same thing goes for the states.

                We’re kind of all in this together.  I don’t know that having small pop states have to take toxic waste, greater taxes and fed regulation, and fewer services (which I believe is what happens if there’s no mechanism to protect against such things, humans being humans) is such a good thing.Report

            • Avatar Ryan Bonneville in reply to James Hanley
              Ignored
              says:

              Eh, I’m unconcerned. Democracy means I don’t always win. It’s still better than what we have.Report

    • Avatar Ryan Bonneville in reply to Jesse Ewiak
      Ignored
      says:

      I’ll endorse #1. The Senate is a spectacularly awful institution.Report

    • Avatar Max L in reply to Jesse Ewiak
      Ignored
      says:

      Besides the ending the filibuster (which is just a Senate tradition, anyway), proportional representation in that body would fix a lot of troubles.  Currently, each state having 2 Senators is mostly  a legacy of slave state issues in the early days of the republic, right?

      The amendment could state that each Senator would represent a district of x population such that there were always 100 Senators.  Districts would be determined by the supreme court.  In fact, here is a sample map.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Max L
        Ignored
        says:

        each state having 2 Senators is mostly  a legacy of slave state issues in the early days of the republic, right?

        Actually, no.  It was a slave state (Virginia) that proposed proportional representation in both chambers of a bicameral legislature (Madison’s Virginia Plan) and small states, including non-slave states like Delaware, that screamed bloody murder, until the convention almost collapsed.  So in came Connecticut to say, “look, we’re agreed on a bicameral legislature, let’s give one to the big boys and one to the small states.”  Drawing from the 1790 census, 9 states had less than 50% of the population, collectively.  They were NY, MD, SC, CT, NJ, NH, GA, RI, DE.  So it’s a list that includes both northern and southern states, but is northern heavy, and in fact the bottom 6 include only one southern state.Report

        • Avatar BSK in reply to James Hanley
          Ignored
          says:

          “… let’s give one to the big boys and one to the small states…”  Only they gave one to the PEOPLE and one to the small states.  If populations shifted, then the power in one shifted, while the power in the other did not.Report

        • Avatar Max L in reply to James Hanley
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          says:

          right, but after the convention states were added in free/slave pairs that exacerbated the problem until the Civil War. Either way, the small state/big state representation issue was used as a workaround exploit to avoid war for 60 years of expansion.Report

    • Avatar BSK in reply to Jesse Ewiak
      Ignored
      says:

      The problem with the Senate is that the two houses were originally conceived to be equal bodies and the two house system was designed to balance the goals of proportional representation and equal representation between the states.  Because of term structures (6 vs 2) and other factors, the Senate has become the more powerful body, as it was never intended.  Ideally, there would be a way to better balance the two houses of Congress and prevent small-pop states from having the sway they do now, as described elsewhere in this thread.

      The Senate also skews the weight of small-pop states in the Presidential election, since they triple the impact of certain states while adding much less proportional weight to larger states.  This could be addressed without any actual reforms to the Senate, instead focusing on the electoral college itself (which I am generally in favor of).Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Jesse Ewiak
      Ignored
      says:

      “Reform the Senate to either destroy it or make it a majoritarian institution where 16% of the country can’t block the wishes of the other 84%.”

      What would you think about, instead, returning to the original concept of the Senate as being not subject to popular election?

      You’re right that small-population states can wield more power per capita in the Senate than large ones, but wasn’t that supposed to be mitigated by the remove placed between Senators and the populace?  Being less directly linked (and having a longer term of service), Senators would be therefore less subject to populist pressure.Report

      • Avatar Max L in reply to DensityDuck
        Ignored
        says:

        Small state dominance is not the same thing as populist pressure. At all.  But, fair enough – the real problem with the Senate, and with an antique Presidential republic, isn’t so much that some regions are over-represented.  Its that all of the systems checks and balances rely on a tremendous amount of cooperation between branches, parties, regions, states etc…  It is also, as has become very apparent in the last few years, a very simple trick to institute parliamentary style party discipline into institutions that have no way of coping with that and grind the whole creaking mess to a full stop.

         Report

        • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Max L
          Ignored
          says:

          You’re really cute with the periods.  For emphasis.

          “Small state dominance is not the same thing as populist pressure.”

          You misunderstand.  As usual.  Not surprising.  At all.

          The point is that with direct popular election, everything a lawmaker does is specifically done with an eye towards the opinion of their constituency.  If a Senator is no longer beholden to that constituency for re-election, then they have the freedom to make unpopular decisions, such as approving Robert Bork.Report

    • Avatar Pub Editor in reply to Jesse Ewiak
      Ignored
      says:

      Currently, each state having 2 Senators is mostly  a legacy of slave state issues in the early days of the republic, right?

      I don’t think that’s right.  I believe it is a legacy of the small northeastern states, in 1787, wanting to protect themselves from domination by Virginia and New York.  According to James Madison’s notes, the Virginia Plan called for proportional representation, and the New Jersey Plan called for a unicameral legislature with equal representation by state (i.e. each state gets one representative/one vote).

      Also, as I understand it, in 1787, some people thought (incorrectly, as it turned out) that population trends would favor the South (e.g., settlement of Kentucky and Tennessee proceded faster than settlement of Ohio and Michigan before 1800); so, again, the New Jerseys and Connecticuts of the new republic wanted some insurance.

      (If someone is aware of stats or narrative to the contrary, I’m all ears.)

      The three-fifths clause was most definitely a legacy of the southern slave states–as was the 1808 clause; and the Compromise of 1820 did seek to maintain the balance of power in the Senate between slave states and free states, but the actions of Congress in 1820  do not necessarily speak to the objectives of the Framers of 1787.Report

  10. Avatar Sam
    Ignored
    says:

    No state that receives more in federal support than it sends in taxation may refuse, fight again, or object to federal regulations.Report

    • Avatar Sam in reply to Sam
      Ignored
      says:

      Note, I haven’t put an ounce of thought into this, except in that it is annoying to hear states whine about the federal government who take more in benefits than they pay in taxation.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Sam
        Ignored
        says:

        I agree with the sentiment behind this amendment, but oppose that actual amendment.  While that kind of politicking is irritating, my worry is that in the long run smaller and poorer states would cede control of regulations that affected them to larger, richer states – and I could see many bad things coming out of such a system.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Sam
      Ignored
      says:

      In your vision, would States be permitted to refuse Federal support if they so chose? 

      For example, could Arizona declare that it did not want Federal involvement in enforcing border security and immigration policy?

      If the Federal government argues that these things are its responsibility, then aren’t Federal activites toward those ends considered “federal support”?  And Arizona would be required to accept it, by Federal decree, and unless it paid more in taxes than the Feds spent deporting people then Arizona would not be allowed to “refuse, fight again[sic], or object”. 

      It’s Catch-22 all over again.  “It’s illegal for you to refuse our help.  Because you did not refuse our help you can’t complain about what we do.”Report

      • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to DensityDuck
        Ignored
        says:

        All or nothing. You want any federal money, you have to accept federal regulation. You don’t to pick which part of the federal law you’re going to follow like it’s the salad bar.Report

        • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Jesse Ewiak
          Ignored
          says:

          And if you’re personally on welfare, or work for the federal government, what right do you have to complain about government attempts to regulate your behavior?Report

          • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Will Truman
            Ignored
            says:

            Individuals have a right to privacy and such. The State of Arizona or Michigan doesn’t.Report

            • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Jesse Ewiak
              Ignored
              says:

              Or instead of fabricating an elaborate justification for this, you could just come out and say that it’s about suppressing opposition to your preferred policies.Report

            • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Jesse Ewiak
              Ignored
              says:

              Arizona and Michigan have a right to electoral representation. And the citizens thereof a right to freedom of speech and the right to elected representation (even if we got rid of the Senate!). That includes the freedom to loudly dislike and disapprove of regulations.

              Now, if we’re talking about modifying those rights for Arizona and Michigan, then surely we can talk about modifying the Right to Privacy.

              (And, of course, this doesn’t even get into the fact that any right to privacy is limited and our personal behavior is regulated all the time.)Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Will Truman
                Ignored
                says:

                They can disapprove of regulations. They can vote for representatives who will reverse those regulations. But, Sam’s point is they can’t via their state government work against those regulations, via either the state legislature or the courts.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Jesse Ewiak
                Ignored
                says:

                So they cannot use their access to the courts?

                Their ability to try to override federal legislation via state legislation is… limited. Medical marijuana, for instance, exists only at the pleasure of the federal government.Report

        • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Jesse Ewiak
          Ignored
          says:

          “You want any federal money, you have to accept federal regulation.”

          The USAF Strategic Command has a whole-country mission.  Therefore, unless a state managed to somehow get itself exempted from USAF protection, it is literally not at all possible for a state to not benefit from federal expenditures.

          Although let’s set aside national-defense questions and ask: are you suggesting that, were Arizona to refuse any Federal money, it would be allowed to write its own laws regarding border security and illegal immigration?  I can certainly see some people being attracted by this idea!Report

          • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to DensityDuck
            Ignored
            says:

            Sure. I’ll even exempt land owned by the federal government and the defense infrastructure from these requirements. Of course, when 30% to 40% of their state budget no longer exists and things people take for granted no longer exists, let’s see how long even states like Arizona, Alabama, or Montana keep those politicians in office.Report

            • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Jesse Ewiak
              Ignored
              says:

              So, just to confirm:  You would revoke the Supremacy Clause as regards for states which do not accept Federal aid (suggested definition:  “Has a line-item in revenues for Federal Government contribution”).Report

            • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Jesse Ewiak
              Ignored
              says:

              And Indian Reservations (that’s a biggie in Arizona). What about Interstates that allow people to drive from Illinois to Washington? What about federal law enforcement? Lease Mineral Rights (wherein 100% of minerals found on public lands goes to DC, which doesn’t count as taxes, but the portion of that money that goes back *does* count as “grants”).

              Start taking these things out, and a lot of states currently “in the red” are “in the black.” A lot of their money is going to national projects, and a lot of the money being spent within those states is being spent on national projects.

              I get it, though. Idahoans are simply the wrong kind of poor. So it’s natural to want to tell them to STFU and know their g’damn place.

              And, of course, a lot of Idahoans aren’t poor. A number of them will put more than their share into the system. But they need to sit down and shut up, too, because their neighbors are poor. Bums.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Will Truman
                Ignored
                says:

                I’ll throw in Indian Reservations too. As for the rest, that responsibility can be given to the states when they opt-our and the Governor of Arizona can deal with it when the Governor of New Mexico and Governor of Texas is pissed off at them.

                As for the bottom part, the people of Idaho aren’t the wrong kind of poor. But, I do think it might be good for some of the people who are so pissed off about the federal government to lose some of that federal government and see how much they really like it. I know it’ll hurt people in the short term, but it’d be a good in the long term.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Jesse Ewiak
                Ignored
                says:

                “But, I do think it might be good for some of the people who are so pissed off about the federal government to lose some of that federal government and see how much they really like it. I know it’ll hurt people in the short term, but it’d be a good in the long term.”

                In that case, should we have the armed forces only protect those states that are conservative and hawkish?Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Tod Kelly
                Ignored
                says:

                That’s assuming the only purpose the DOD can only be put to use to in offensive wars. Even us liberal commie socialists recognize there’s a point to a military. On the other hand, legislature in states that basically want to ignore federal laws pertaining to the EPA or ICE are a whole ‘nother matter.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Jesse Ewiak
                Ignored
                says:

                Also, if teenagers want to complain about curfews then they can just move out of the damn house and get a real damn job and see how THEY like paying for everything.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to DensityDuck
                Ignored
                says:

                Yeah, I would compare a certain chunk of conservatives as pissed-off teenagers who don’t understand the world.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Jesse Ewiak
                Ignored
                says:

                Yes, because it’s very important that Idahoans know their place.

                Like those people who work for the government or collect welfare of some sort and think that cannabis should be legal and Plan-B should be available OTC. Spoiled teenagers, as you say.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Will Truman
                Ignored
                says:

                Not Idahoans. Just Idahoans who think their life would be so much better without the specter of the federal government in their life. I want to give them the opportunity to try it and see how they truly like it.

                As for your comparison, it just doesn’t make any sense. People who truly want the federal government to be much smaller have every right to try to get 50 Senators, 218 Representatives, and the White House.

                Just as even government workers have the right to elect representatives who will make cannabis and Plan B available to all. The difference is of course, those government workers don’t want to force feed the rest of the country Plan B or pot. Unlike the small government people, who want to take federal regulations from even those who support them.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Jesse Ewiak
                Ignored
                says:

                I think I’m confused as to how someone who wants fewer government regulations and less government intrusion into life could be said to be “force feeding” or “taking” anything.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jesse Ewiak
                Ignored
                says:

                Maybe because arguing for ‘less government intrusion’ can often preserve practices that actually limit the expression of rights and liberties. Ie. if the cultural norm is to ban blacks from your establishment, less government intrusion means sustaining the idea that people can ban blacks from your establishment.

                Less government intrusion doesn’t automatically lead to greater justice. Right?Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Jesse Ewiak
                Ignored
                says:

                “states rights is dogwhistle racism”

                Thread over, cut here.Report

        • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Jesse Ewiak
          Ignored
          says:

          Firstly…

          “You want any federal money, you have to accept federal regulation.”

          National defense has a whole-country mission.  Unless you’re suggesting that there’s a realistic way for a state to opt out of being protected by, say, the US Strategic Command’s nuclear deterrent force, then there is no possible way in which a state cannot benefit from federal expenditures–that is to say, “get federal money”.

          Second:  So, what are your thoughts on my suggested Arizona scenario?  “Okay, we don’t take any money.  In return we handle border security and immigration enforcement as we see fit.”  Does that work for you?  (If so, there are some people who would find this proposal extremely attractive!)Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Sam
      Ignored
      says:

      Maybe we could do this on an individual level, too.Report

      • Avatar Sam Wilkinson in reply to Brandon Berg
        Ignored
        says:

        Incidentally, if South Carolina wants to complain about the federal government while at the same time getting more in federal aid than they send back in taxation, and they decide they’d rather go on their own for awhile, sure, we can try that. But the federal government also gets to take back everything that it has put in South Carolina. Tear up the roads. Fill in the dredged ports. Take away the student loans. Demand immediate payment on the mortgages. Everything. I want to see how heroic and rugged these states really are.Report

        • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Sam Wilkinson
          Ignored
          says:

          See, I’m the moderate here guys. 🙂Report

          • Avatar Sam Wilkinson in reply to Jesse Ewiak
            Ignored
            says:

            I want to see rugged individualists BE rugged individualists, rather than just talking the talk. And I want to see politicians actually run on their own bullshit, rather than decrying Washington at every turn before turning around to beg whenever everybody isn’t looking. Southern states are run by politicians who decry welfare and yet require it to survive. I want somebody like Jim DeMint to own that.Report

            • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Sam Wilkinson
              Ignored
              says:

              But according to Will, we just hate Idahoans and other poor people who aren’t the “right’ poor people.Report

            • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Sam Wilkinson
              Ignored
              says:

              “I want to see rugged individualists BE rugged individualists, rather than just talking the talk.”

              And if they were permitted to be, then they would be.  Oops, they just rescinded Affirmative Action.  Then they legalized pot.  And they kicked out everyone who didn’t have a green card.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to DensityDuck
                Ignored
                says:

                Oops, your interstates have potholes. Oops, your poor have no Medicaid. Oops, your elderly have no Medicare. Oops, the EPA isn’t telling the local plant not to dump shit in the river. Oops, you have to fire 50% of your teachers due to no education funding.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Jesse Ewiak
                Ignored
                says:

                No Federal Highway Trust Fund contribution to maintenance?  So the state keeps the federal fuel taxes and spends those on its own roads.  Considering that’s where most highway-maintenance funding comes from, they’ll do fine.  (They’ll probably do better, in fact, because they’ll only be required to pay for their own highways, rather than having their money go to maintain highways elsewhere in the country that don’t benefit them.)  Unless you’re suggesting that the state should keep paying full Federal taxes but not get any benefits, in which case, remember how this country got started?

                No Federal payments to Medicare?  Medicare isn’t a state-level contribution.  Why would this proposal require individual citizens to give up Medicare?  (As an alternative proposal, see above re: not paying taxes to support something you don’t get.)

                The EPA isn’t telling the local plant not to dump shit in the river?  What stops the state handling that itself?  Why can’t states pass their own environmental-control laws?

                Teachers getting fired? You forgot to tell me about cops and firemen and doctors getting fired too.  In fact, you’re increasingly just copypasting from the Tea Party “well why don’t you just PRIVATIZE EVERYTHING” argument.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to DensityDuck
                Ignored
                says:

                As for highways, just like the gas tax would’ve been continued to be taken just like it would’ve been taken if the states hadn’t increased their drinking age to 21, the gas tax would’ve been continued to be collected in those states.

                Look in your state budget. There’s plenty of money coming from the federal government into state’s Medicaid/Medicare system, education system, and so on. Elderly people would still be able to get Medicare, but if there’s no funding in those state’s systems from Medicare or Medicaid, good luck to those hospitals within that state getting payment.

                As for the rest, again, look at your state’s budgets. Plenty of transfers coming in from the federal government. Pell Grants, Teach for America grants, the COPS Act, stimulus funds to buy a firetruck, etc, etc. So yes, doctors, nurses, firefighters, and police officers would lose their job unless the states wanted to raise their own taxes.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Jesse Ewiak
                Ignored
                says:

                So you missed the part where I said “Unless you’re suggesting that the state should keep paying full Federal taxes but not get any benefits, in which case, remember how this country got started?”Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Jesse Ewiak
                Ignored
                says:

                Jesse,

                If that’s the state’s choice, fish ’em.  I don’t want to live in Louisiana, but if others do, it’s no skin off my nose.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Sam
      Ignored
      says:

      “All states that take in more Federal dollars than they send in must submit to drug testing.”Report

      • Avatar Ryan Bonneville in reply to Jaybird
        Ignored
        says:

        And they can’t spend federal funds on candy.Report

      • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Jaybird
        Ignored
        says:

        Hey, I’ll make a compromise. If people accepting welfare has to take a drug test, so does every employee of every company that gets any kind of grant, subsidy, tax break, or tax credit from the government.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jesse Ewiak
          Ignored
          says:

          Every single job that I have worked that gets any kind of grant, subsidy, tax break, or tax credit from the government has bragged about having “A Drug-Free Workplace” and has made me sign a form saying that they can make me pee in a cup and terminate me if I refuse.

          I think that all of them, excepting one, actually *MADE* me pee in the cup. The exception only made me sign the form.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jesse Ewiak
          Ignored
          says:

          Hell, when I applied to Blockbuster when I was 20, *THEY* made me take a goddamn *HAIR TEST*.

          (Note: I oppose drug testing on the general principle when it comes to a “Right to Privacy” but I understand that companies that operate heavy machinery may want to have a drug-free workplace and I can understand why they’d want a guy who runs a machine press to be drug-free. I do think that Congressmen/Senators should be drug-tested, though.)Report

    • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Sam
      Ignored
      says:

      Money spent on military bases doesn’t count.  Money spent on national parks doesn’t count.  Money spent on Social Security recipients, or on Medicare recipients, who are allowed to move wherever they damned well please, doesn’t count (take out the dedicated taxes on the revenue side of the calculations as well).  Money spent on Indian reservations whose tribes were forcibly relocated at some time in the past doesn’t count.  Money spent on national laboratories doesn’t count, including the money spent cleaning up the messes that the nuclear labs have made in the past.  Money spent on federal agency expenses where the agency has elected to concentrate its employees in national or regional headquarters doesn’t count.

      There are certainly cases, particularly in small-population states, where the donor vs recipient status is determined by large federal expenditures that are done for the good of the entire country.Report

  11. Avatar balthan
    Ignored
    says:

    Declare that food, water, shelter, education, and heath care (both preventive and treatment) are basic human rights.  Give Congress the power to ensure that all American citizens are able to receive adequate minimums of each, and of sufficient quality.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to balthan
      Ignored
      says:

      Also, cell phones and cars, because communication and mobility are basic human rights too.Report

    • Avatar Pub Editor in reply to balthan
      Ignored
      says:

      OK, you’ve given Congress power to act one these positive rights, but do individuals have any power to seek judicial enforcement of their rights?

      My understanding is that in some constitutions (like South Africa) that include lists of positive rights, those provisions are not enforceable through judicial action (in the U.S., we would say that they are nonjusticiable questions). So, you may have a constitutional right to health care, but you cannot get a court to order a government-run hospital to provide a particular procedure. So, in those cases, the recitation of positive rights is aspirational, but not justiciable.

      In some countries, like Germany, courts do have the power to compel governmental bodies to provide things (like housing) covered by recitations of positive rights.

      And in some U.S. states, there are clauses in state constitutions providing that education is a basic right; and state supreme courts have interpreted those clauses to empower judges to review education policy to see if the state is meeting its minimal obligation.Report

    • Avatar Roger in reply to balthan
      Ignored
      says:

      Hate it. This in effects enslaves us. Someone has to produce the food and so forth. Might as well throw in a right to pyramids.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Roger
        Ignored
        says:

        I don’t like this amendment either, but there might be a few steps in between saying OK to food stamps and pushing giant boulders across the dessert while being whipped.Report

      • Avatar balthan in reply to Roger
        Ignored
        says:

        Except for the fact the government does this already, to varying degrees.

        Food stamps, EPA regulating municple water, Section 8 housing, federal standards for education, and Medicare/Medicaid are examples. 

        The amendment would make the programs explicitly Constitutional and hopefully end the constant battles over whether or not these programs should even exist and hopefully allow Congress to actually work on improving the programs and reducing inefficiencies and misuse.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to balthan
      Ignored
      says:

      I think this bit is where the future headaches come from:

      “Give Congress the power to ensure that all American citizens are able to receive adequate minimums of each, and of sufficient quality”Report

  12. Avatar Pub Editor
    Ignored
    says:

    I would amend Article II to allow multi-member districts for the House, similar to the case for the lower house in the Republic of Ireland. (Specifically, I think this would affect sections 2 and 4 of Article II.)

    (My reading of Article II indicates that Congress could, through legislation, allow or require the states to have multi-member districts, but Congress has not done so, choosing in stead to require the state legislatures to draw single-member districts.)

    Multi-member districts, with congress-critters elected on a STV or proportional vote basis, would give third parties more of a chance, I think.  That is not a goal in itself, to me, but this would be useful mainly for breaking the hold of the two-party establishment, which tends to reinforce itself, and allows each party to ignore elements within its own coalition.Report

  13. Avatar Pub Editor
    Ignored
    says:

    Also, at some point we might think about amending Article II, section 3, clause 6 so that the Vice President does not preside over his own impeachment trial. Just a thought.Report

  14. Avatar Max L
    Ignored
    says:

    I think Bernie Sanders is on the right track with this one.

    I don’t think I’d want any amendments until congress was actually representing citizens instead of large donors.  Here is an excerpt, full text at the link above:

    “The rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons and do not extend to for-profit corporations or to promote business interests under the laws of any state, the United States, or any foreign state.

    Such corporate and other private entities shall be prohibited from making contributions or expenditures in any election of any candidate for public office or the vote upon any ballot measure submitted to the people.

    Congress and the States shall have the power to regulate and set limits on all election contributions and expenditures, including a candidate’s own spending, and to authorize the establishment of political committees to receive, spend, and publicly disclose the sources of those contributions and expenditures.”Report

  15. Avatar Tod Kelly
    Ignored
    says:

    I’ll throw in:

    I’d like to amend Article II Section 2 with some language that allows the President to use the armed forces for combat purposes when (a) Congress declares war, or (b) when the nation or its interests are in immediate peril.  However, once combat is initiated due to (b), the President has 14 days to get Congress to approve continued action.  If at the end of the 14 days he has not gotten Congressional approval, the President must cease those combat operations.

    This is not well thought out and obviously imperfect, but would allow for the President to initiate immediate defense without having hands tied, but still be forced to get a majority of Congress to approve any prolonged combat-related military action.Report

    • Avatar Ryan Bonneville in reply to Tod Kelly
      Ignored
      says:

      That sounds reasonable to me.Report

    • Avatar Pub Editor in reply to Tod Kelly
      Ignored
      says:

      This is not well thought out and obviously imperfect

      You could accomplish your basic goals by adapting the text of the 1973 War Powers Act and importing that into the Constitution.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Pub Editor
        Ignored
        says:

        The problem is that you’ll need an actual enforcement mechanism. I suggest waterboarding for presidents who don’t obey.Report

        • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to James Hanley
          Ignored
          says:

          How about he cedes control of the military until such time as the trips are withdrawn?Report

          • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Tod Kelly
            Ignored
            says:

            I don’t know.  Obviously we’d have to decide who s/he cedes authority to, but that’s a minor detail.  Let’s assume for a moment that it goes outside the executive branch, to really remove it from the president’s authority, say to the Speaker of the House.  I guess the real question is what happens if the prez refuses to comply?  Do we just hope that the top generals follow the Constitution?  Are we inadvertently setting the grounds for a de facto coup if the generals refuse to follow the orders of the Speaker?

            I think this is a case where the ultimate enforcement mechanism is a culture of adherence to the rules.  The U.S. military is pretty good at being non-political, as far as that goes, but would this put them in a dangerous position of temptation?

            Don’t get me wrong, I like the idea of the president ceding control.  It’s just one of those “if it actually works” type likes.Report

  16. Avatar Pierre Corneille
    Ignored
    says:

    My amendment would change how the senate works.  I would have only a suspensory veto on legislation, and yet could disallow any executive order and can remove executive officers (except the president and vp) by a no-confidence vote (instead of the more cumbersome impeachment).  Here’s a link to how I would word it:

    http://www.theolderepublicke.blogspot.com/2011/03/another-revised-sample-amendment-to.html

     

     

     Report

  17. Avatar BSK
    Ignored
    says:

    “Congratulations, you made it impossible to declare murder illegal.

    “But nobody thinks that murder should be legal!”  Welp.  How does a governing body prove beyond a reasonable doubt that murder should be illegal?  And how do we avoid that reasoning being extended to other things?  “Drugs cause significant problems for society, and the cost of mitigating those problems extend beyond what the individual who caused them could reasonably be expected to cover.  Therefore the interest of society in avoiding excessive costs supercedes the interest of individual persons to do lines of coke off a hooker’s chest.””

    The right to do lines of coke off a hooker’s chest.  Or ass.Report

  18. Avatar trizzlor
    Ignored
    says:

    I would enforce “taxpayer standing”, so that any citizen could sue the government for acting in an unconstitutional manner regardless of injury or redress. My attempt to wish for more wishes.Report

  19. Avatar kenB
    Ignored
    says:

    I propose removing “of the United States” from the preamble, so that the text will then exactly match the Schoolhouse Rock song.Report

  20. Avatar Ryan Bonneville
    Ignored
    says:

    I’ll bite on judges.

    Term limits for Supreme Court justices. I’ve seen this somewhere and I can’t remember where, but each judge gets 18 years, fixed so that someone is being appointed every two years. Emeritus judges would be allowed to fill vacancies created by recusal, death, or early retirement to ensure that the Court always has 9 members sitting for each case.

    I would like to couple this with an amendment that requires a simple up-or-down vote for Senate confirmation as well, but if not we can just put that in the text of this one.Report

    • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Ryan Bonneville
      Ignored
      says:

      I think I like both of these, provided that the requirement of up or down votes on confirmations applied across the board to all positions, and most importantly to all judges of any level.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Ryan Bonneville
      Ignored
      says:

      Mine! This was my idea! Well, probaby not just mine. This is what I get for coming late to the game.

      The up-or-down vote term (a very good idea) could be written in easily:

      Section 2. The Senate shall vote to confirm any nominee to the judiciary within three months of the President having submitted the nomination for the Senate’s advice and consent. In the event that the Senate fails to vote to confirm or reject the appointment within this period of time, the appointment shall be deemed rejected.

      Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Burt Likko
        Ignored
        says:

        Deemed rejected?  Are you sure this would actually promote votes?  Wouldn’t it promote inaction by Senators until such time as there was a crisis of lack of jedges on the bench?  And wouldn’t it simply amount to something like the status quo, with the president simply having to renominate judges at three-month intervals, rather than simply let their nominations linger unaddressed?  After all, merely because a nominee has been deemed rejected does not amount to the kind of political rebuke that an active vote to reject a nominee issues to the president that serves as a message of “Don’t send him back, or anyone like him.”  if it just became a matter of routine that nominees were deemed rejected, I doubt that presidents would see failures to confirm their nominees as instructions not to send them back.

        if you want to shake up the confirmation process and get Senators to engage with it, make the default confirmation.  Then you’ll see judges get up-or-down votes.Report

      • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to Burt Likko
        Ignored
        says:

        Doesn’t this just encourage putting holds and filibusters on nominees? See: Current Senate?Report

        • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Nob Akimoto
          Ignored
          says:

          I’m with Michael and Nob here.  Burt’s amendment is perfectly written except that the word “rejected” and replaced with “confirmed.”

          If the Senate wants to reject a president’s nominee, they should have to take an affirmative action to do so, not just kill the nomination through failure to act.

          This would make it similar to the president’s actions vis a vis a law.  If he wants to kill it, he has to take an affirmative action and veto it.  If he refuses to act, it becomes law.Report

  21. Avatar Morat20
    Ignored
    says:

    Probably because it’s gotten so out of hand, but I’d modify the recess appointment clause. The wording would take a bit of thought, but effectively I’d like to see something that takes into account modern realities.

    Basically trade off the length of recess appointments with a change that failure of the Senate to vote by simple majority — a nominee within a reasonable (ie: varying by appointment length) time period is an automatic confirmation for all save lifetime appointments (and even then make it a effective multi-year temporary appointment).

    The President could not make recess appointments save in cases where Congress truly could not come to session due to the death or incapacity of a quorum. On the other hand, the Senate couldn’t bottle up nominees forever — which they’d do without the recess appointment power hanging over their head.

    I suppose I could still see cases where 51 Senators decided they’d just never cast a “yes” vote for anyone the president appointed, even if it was Jesus himself, but that seems a lot more public and unpopular than quitely not voting on dozens — or hundreds — of nominees.Report

  22. Avatar Ryan Bonneville
    Ignored
    says:

    Another one that interests me:

    I’d amend Article III to create a sub-Supreme Court or panel that reviews all legislation. Any legislation it chooses (by majority vote) will be immediately sent to the Supreme Court, which can grant or deny cert as it sees fit using the traditional procedure.Report

  23. Avatar Ryan Bonneville
    Ignored
    says:

    I would explicitly add sex and sexual orientation to the 14th Amendment.Report

  24. Avatar BSK
    Ignored
    says:

    As crazy as it may seem, I’d like to see longer terms for most elected officials.  With the way elections are run nowadays, politicians begin their next campaign the moment the results from the previous election are official.  Not only does this distract from their primary role and responsibilities, but it also limits their perspective to a very narrow time frame.  Let the elected officials go to work and have campaign season take up less than 25% of their time in office (in terms of the calendar).  I would also like to see a resign-to-run law when seeking a higher office.  How much time has Paul sent away from Congree during the Campaign?Report

  25. Avatar Patrick Cahalan
    Ignored
    says:

    I’d start over, myself.

    But, if I couldn’t do that, I’d do something like the following:

    The legislative branch shall be prohibited from engaging in legislative activity without written record.  Any actions by any Senator or Congressperson relating to legislative action shall be recorded and endorsed by said member of Congress and included in the Congressional record, including all votes, suggestions for amendment, activities in committee, or meetings pertaining to the crafting or passage of any legislation submitted before Congress.

    Any legislator found in violation of this Article, or convicted of any felony statute, shall be expelled from service in the Legislative branch of the federal government and may not again be admitted, nor shall they serve in the Executive nor Judicial branches, nor shall they receive any remaining outstanding payments, pensions, or benefits by the federal government that they may be otherwise entitled to under any existing or future legislation.

    Enforcement of this Article shall be the under the authority of the judicial branch, in consultation with the assembled governors of the States of the Union.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Patrick Cahalan
      Ignored
      says:

      How are you defining legislative activity?  Does this mean, for example, they must recuse themselves from dinner conversations that turn to current events?Report

      • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Tod Kelly
        Ignored
        says:

        Yeah, this would sort of be impossible. Even in Sweden, Denmark, or other “transparent” nations, I’m sure members of Parliament talk to each other off the record about bills.Report

      • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Tod Kelly
        Ignored
        says:

        They don’t have to recuse themselves from anything.

        If they think it’s pertinent to affecting their legislative activities, they record it.  if they don’t, they don’t.

        If someone else records them saying and doing a lot of things that they didn’t report, that someone can submit those recordings to the enforcement entity and a suitable investigation can take place.

        I’m pretty sure that the judiciary and the assembled governors can hammer out details that are acceptable to everybody and represent a reasonable baseline.  I mean, it’s not like our entire criminal investigation process is encoded in the Constitution, either.  Implementation details are left to the entities entrusted with the enforcement authority: the judiciary and the governors. (edited to add) The judiciary to provide a federal-level check, and the governors to provide context. (/edited).

        Sure, you can get a lot of gray area where people can quibble about this or that, but the vast, vast majority of legislative sausage-making is pretty straightforward and obvious and currently done behind closed committee doors or by voice vote.Report

        • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Patrick Cahalan
          Ignored
          says:

          Combine this with dogwhistling accusations, where anything can be “interepreted as a political statement”, and you create a system where Congress members are required to have a tape recorder running 24/7.Report

          • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to DensityDuck
            Ignored
            says:

            You know that thing that you say I do?  You’re doing it now.

            Even if it came to that (and I doubt it would, or that this is a necessary level of oversight), I’m not so certain that having Congress members run a tape 24/7 is a terrible imposition for the 600 people that control trillions of dollars in decision-making.Report

  26. Avatar Will Truman
    Ignored
    says:

    The first order of business would be DC retrocession and moving the nation’s capitol to Nebraska.

    The second would be one where I actually (gasp) agree with Bonneville: Supreme Court term limits. I’m not sure if I would get rid of the filibuster on Supreme Court nominations (it is perhaps the only place I would keep it). I particularly like the idea of emeritus justices, though I do worry that it is a system that will be gamed (demanding recusals because the most recent emeritus is one more sympathetic to the cause).

    I might delve into the Senate, modifying but not replacing it.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Will Truman
      Ignored
      says:

      Why have them move to Nebraska?  Is it to create a self-imposed term limit?Report

      • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Tod Kelly
        Ignored
        says:

        I see what you did there.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Tod Kelly
        Ignored
        says:

        You joke, but…

        Seriously, I think in a nation as large as ours that we shouldn’t have a capital on one end of the country. The east coast doesn’t need the capital (if they vacated, it would not take long at all for industry to move on). It’s squooshed in when we have lots of land to go around in middle-America.

        And yeah, it would be helpful if the capital were a place that people couldn’t *wait* to get away from. Either temporarily, back to their districts, or permanently!

         Report

        • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Will Truman
          Ignored
          says:

          It may be far away from most of the land of the country, but being in Nebraska would be much farther away from most of the actual populace of the country than putting it in DC. Within a few hundreds of miles of DC, there’s literally a good solid chunk of the population. Within a few hundred miles of Nebraska, there’s about 3% of the population.

          Also, if you don’t think any random place in Nebraska wouldn’t be built up within a few decades of your move, I have some wonderful oceanfront property in Nebraska to sell you.Report

          • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Jesse Ewiak
            Ignored
            says:

            The current capital is real close to a lot of people, but really far from a lot of other people. The population center in the US is in Missouri. I’d rather equally far from everybody than really close to some and four time-zones away from others.

            Of course Nebraska would be built up, at least somewhat. But it doesn’t mean that people would want to stay there. Bismarck and Pierre would be specs on a map if there weren’t a capitals there, but the population still heavily resides in Fargo and Sioux Falls. Brazil put the capital in a specific place precisely to move people, but from what I understand it didn’t really work. Brasilia is still big, but it’s no Rio (I talked to a Brazilian about this. There was actually the hope that by putting the capital there it would move more people around, but it didn’t (and the politicos still go back to Rio as quick as they can).

            Really, though, I can go either way. Either we get a new urban hub in the Heartland, or we have legislators going home at every opportunity. It’s a win either way, as far as I am concerned.Report

          • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Jesse Ewiak
            Ignored
            says:

            Jesse,

            How about L.A., then?Report

            • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to James Hanley
              Ignored
              says:

              Well, it’s a slightly better idea, I realize I’m weird that I like the idea that while our capital is it’s own city, it’s within close range to the urban core of the nation. Because seriously, we’re probably a few decades away from Boston-NY-Washington-Baltimore-Philadelphia being one massive urban core.

              I ‘get’ the reasons for wanting the capital away from the rest of the nation, I just don’t agree the positives outweigh the negatives of an isolated capital.

              Plus, it’s unamerican to have our capital where there’s no football team. 😛Report

    • Avatar Ryan Bonneville in reply to Will Truman
      Ignored
      says:

      I think we agree a lot more than you let on!Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Ryan Bonneville
        Ignored
        says:

        So, Operation: Nebraska. Are you in?!Report

        • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Will Truman
          Ignored
          says:

          How about Denver?  Or Kansas City? Still keeps it central, but reduces infrastructure development costs.Report

          • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to James Hanley
            Ignored
            says:

            I’ll be the ass and say why not New York? The rest of the world has does pretty well putting it’s capital in it’s largest cities. It makes as much sense to me as throwing it in a random Midwestern/Mountain West city to me. 🙂Report

            • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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              says:

              You can plump for NY, sure.  But the “why not” question was answered in the original proposal.Report

            • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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              says:

              Three reasons why not New York:

              1) Geographic imbalance.

              2) New York City already has a metric ton of people and some of the most expensive real estate in the country.

              3) I’ve lived in states where the capital is the largest city and states where it is not. I prefer where it is not. Representation gets too capital-centric when the population center *and* the capital are Boise, or SLC. Other places become something of an afterthought. Better is when the capital is Helena or Pierre. It deconcentrates power, separating cultural power and political power. I consider that a benefit.Report

          • Avatar Will Truman in reply to James Hanley
            Ignored
            says:

            Kansas City an interesting proposal. What would be perfect would be a city like Detroit with excess infrastructure, but Detroit is not ideally located.

            I’m partial to the idea of starting from scratch than trying to hobble on to a new city. Not actually from scratch, but a comparatively small city with room to grow. But I’m not opposed to Kansas City. Denver is a bit too far west.

             Report

            • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Will Truman
              Ignored
              says:

              Not Detroit–too close to me.

              I’m worried about starting from scratch because I’m afraid we’d pull a Brasilia.  Not about people not actually moving there, but that we’d build a top-down city from scratch that would be designed by architects with a grand vision and that would be fundamentally anti-human.

              Assure me we won’t do that, and I’ve no real opposition to starting anew.

              How about a new town in western Iowa, between Sioux City and Council Bluffs?  Then the region can become liberal and we can get rid of Steve King.  Or how about Council Bluffs itself?  That’d be a sparkling good name for a capital.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to James Hanley
                Ignored
                says:

                In a novel idea I’ve been throwing around where half of the country (mostly the eastern half) ends up under water, the capital of the Western States of America is Grand Junction. I chose it because it was near-central and a place to start from that was safer than safe from the water, but I thought it a great name for a capital. Not as good as Council Bluffs, though.

                How is Brasillia “anti-human”?Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Will Truman
                Ignored
                says:

                Brasilia was not built on a human scale. It was a city designed to certain architectural ideals, not to what humans are actually comfortable living in.

                James Scott has a good chapter on it in his book Seeing Like a State. As he describes it, the vision for Basilia was to be precisely the counter to the image of Brazil, an ultra-modernist vision of a city.  For example the main square is “of such a scale as to dwarf even a military parade. In comparison, Tiananmen Square and the Red Square are positively cozy and intimate.”

                It’s the general lack of coziness and intimacy, the desire to make a city perfectly rational–everything straight and square, no natural curves in roads, etc.–make it the opposite of what humans naturally develop on their own.Report

              • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to James Hanley
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                says:

                I don’t know, the Romans did central city planning rather well. Their city architecture tends to favor straight lines rather than curving roads for example, but it worked for their way of life. A topographical history of Constantinople is an interesting one in this case because as time goes on, public spaces get reduced and roads become less organized, particularly once the Ottomans moved in.

                I do think Brasilia is probably the wrong model for the US, but I also think the aesthetics that went into Brasilia wouldn’t necessarily be replicated by an American attempt at a new “city from scratch.” For one, the concept of urban modernity that was in vogue during the Brasilia planning era isn’t the one that’s fashionable now. I’d imagine something more akin to a high density, but highly livable urban space that’d take into things like walkability.

                Urban planners in the US are very talented. They may not be up to the level of say Denmark’s, but if you gave them a blank slate, they’d probably make a very comfortable, organic and functional city that would be a great model for the rest of the country.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Nob Akimoto
                Ignored
                says:

                the concept of urban modernity that was in vogue during the Brasilia planning era isn’t the one that’s fashionable now

                True, thank God.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Nob Akimoto
                Ignored
                says:

                Dubai and the UAE have done a lot of building from scratch, haven’t they? How’d they do?

                So has China, of course.Report

              • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to Nob Akimoto
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                says:

                The UAE is not a model that’s sustainable on any level, including their own.

                As for China’s building from scratch….2008 Sichuan earthquake anyone?Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Nob Akimoto
                Ignored
                says:

                I realize that things fell apart out there for a number of reasons. I didn’t realize the urban planning was one of them. Unsustainable how?

                I mentioned China, but when I think about their projects, not much good comes to mind (and not because of the architecture).Report

              • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to Nob Akimoto
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                says:

                The big urban projects in the UAE basically rely on the huge amounts of oil money that sloshes around the region to fund it. They’re trying really hard to use that money to turn these new megacities into actual functioning megapolises, but they don’t really have the population numbers to make this work if/when the oil money dries up.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Nob Akimoto
                Ignored
                says:

                Okay, I get the overdevelopment part. But since we’re talking about a limited-development case here (one city, our Nebraskan capital), how would their overall design work in that context?

                Or was the problem that they built abodes that were too expensive figuring that everybody was going to get rich and be able to afford it? I could see us making *that* mistake. MarketUrbanism has done some interesting tweeting on this in the Northeast (“low income housing” with a minimum income level of $100k). And, of course, that appears to be a part of the problem with China.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Nob Akimoto
                Ignored
                says:

                Re: UAE.

                I haven’t been to Abu Dhabi, but I’ve heard it’s very beautiful.  The question I have is whether it’s “showpiece” beautiful or “homey” beautiful?

                Dubai’s stucture is essentially built along an urban freeway.  That made it easy for them to add a monorail system (the metro), since they only need a couple of lines, the main one of which follows along that freeway. The metro is one of the things they’ve done right, but the long stretched out city-centered-on-a-freeway-style approach (a classic Le Corbusier touch), just sucks balls. It means it’s not a walkable and actually liveable area.

                The older part of Dubai that was built before they started serious urban planning–Bur Dubai–is walkable; it has the feeling of, say, downtown Chicago just outside the loop. And the yet older part, Deira, is the classic old city maze of narrow winding streets, and is barely driveable but is tremendously walkable.

                The tourists go to the new parts of Dubai (and only hit the old parts for the traditional souks/markets).  The people who live in Duabi (the ones that aren’t wealthy or temporary guest workers) live in Bur Dubai and Deira.

                Re: Unsustainability.  There’s controversy about that, but most outside observers tend to agree with Nob.  Dubai had fantastic growth but was building at a rate that would have required even faster growth to fill up all the supply of office and living space that was being created (and of course in the last few years they’ve grown more slowly, not more quickly).  Their energy demands are massive and growing because they’re going with the old “tallest buildings in the world prove how great we are model,” so they are making quarter-mile tall buildings coated in glass–in a desert–that will require massive amounts of energy for air conditioning.  And in general the developed world is moving away from skyscrapers because, as one article I read put it, “it doesn’t make sense to pump water 1/4 into the air to flush a toilet.”  Dubai doesn’t have land constraints, so the vertical approach isn’t necessary, and they would be much more energy efficient if they were building lower, with less total exterior area of buildings exposed to the sun.

                But here’s where I’m not quite persuaded it’s unsustainable.  Dubai knows it’s running out of oil, soon, and their building and economic development model is based on creating a city that’s large enough to be self-sustaining in the absence of oil revenue.  If they overshoot on building and have a surplus for a while, that’s not the worst thing in the world.  They’re striving, and succeeding, in becoming a major center for business headquarters of all types–they want diversity (and they’re one of the few developing states smart enough to attract foreign investment by allowing outright ownership of property by foreigners).  And they are a few hours flight away from something like 10 million millionaires–for them they want to be a playground.

                The sustainability problems their model creates? If they’re successful they’ll be able to afford to solve them.  But if they don’t make this move and slip into an economic backwater when the oil runs out, they’ll wish they had risked sustainability problems.

                That’s my two cents, anyway.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Nob Akimoto
                Ignored
                says:

                A new capital in Nebraska probably wouldn’t have China/UAE problems.  I was mostly worried about Le Corbusier-style designing.  But as was noted above, that’s not so much in style now, at least in the U.S.  Instead, we’d probably get some really cutesy new urbanism model–a bit too sweet and fake charmy, but far from the worst that could be done.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Nob Akimoto
                Ignored
                says:

                I just wanted to say, this is a really interesting conversation.Report

              • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to Nob Akimoto
                Ignored
                says:

                An interesting example I think is the “Odaiba” development in Tokyo..

                I mean in the end it worked out, but it was a costly boondoggle.

                As for the unsustainability, my biggest point about Dubai or Abu Dabi are the gigantic skyscrapers in a region of the world where even making something habitable is an extraordinary energy demand, and using something like those large buildings is utterly pointless.

                They also have extreme amounts of floor space for a small fraction of what it costs to build. Now granted, given the problems James describes, it’s actually a reasonable use of their resources relative to what else they could be doing with it. I just don’t see it panning out in the long run.Report

              • Avatar mark boggs in reply to James Hanley
                Ignored
                says:

                I fear western Iowa has more than one Steve King in it.  But if you redistricted to get Iowa City in King’s district, he’d probably lose.Report

            • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to Will Truman
              Ignored
              says:

              I think building a new city from scratch is probably desirable in that you get all the nice shiney infrastructure that would be needed to make a world class capital….and I mean, why not?

              Let’s experiment with neat things like light rail, monorail, urban air planning, walkable streets….Make legislators live in a modern city so they know the benefits and they can return to their constituents to talk up the benefits of this program or another.Report

    • Avatar Pub Editor in reply to Will Truman
      Ignored
      says:

      I believe Josiah Tucker proposed, circa 1770, moving the British capital from London to York, for similar reasons. You can see how successful he was.Report

    • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to Will Truman
      Ignored
      says:

      Thinking on the capital…

      I’d do something like what you’re talking about, but take it a step further.

      Move the seat of legislative power, but keep the executive where it is now. (An Edo/Kyoto situation!)

      Separate them geographically so that you can’t just have lobbyists moving from one branch to the other handing out goodies. Make them work a little.Report

    • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Will Truman
      Ignored
      says:

      They should move the seat of government every 10 years to the metropolitan area (metropolitan area defined as > 200,000 population with N square miles for some N I can’t figure at the moment) that has the highest rate of poverty.

      I know, now we’ll quibble about what’s “poverty”.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Will Truman
      Ignored
      says:

      Will- what would you do with all of the DC buildings and landmarks, such as Lincoln memorial or the congressional building?  Would you move them, rebuild them, or just sell them to be malls, and have everyone work in a cheap business park?Report

  27. Avatar Kyle Cupp
    Ignored
    says:

    As I philosophically support the idea of public funding of healthcare, but understand there are some alleged constitutional issues, I’d favor a constitutional amendment explicitly giving the federal government the authority to fund and run a healthcare system, single-payer or otherwise.Report

  28. Avatar BSK
    Ignored
    says:

    I propose that the title of this post be amended to properly represent its constituents.  We are the LoOG, not the LOoG.Report

  29. Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto
    Ignored
    says:

    An amendment repealing the government’s power to grant letters of marque and reprisal and of further prohibiting government contracting out the use of violence to private entities.Report

  30. Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto
    Ignored
    says:

    Given that the above is somewhat of a minor issue…

    I’d actually put in a requirement that post-census redistricting of Congressional districts be done by non-partisan committees rather than a state’s legislature and drawn in accordance with the Bill of Rights, particularly the 14th amendment.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Nob Akimoto
      Ignored
      says:

      This. Very much this.  The Iowa model is good.Report

      • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        Eh, the Iowa model works before Iowa’s a square state with only really big city. There are ways  to make redistricting more nonpartisan, but Iowa isn’t a one size fits all solution.Report

        • Avatar Pub Editor in reply to Jesse Ewiak
          Ignored
          says:

          Arizona has a variation on the Iowa model. But the key point is to take it out of the hands of state legislators who are basically drawing districts for themselves and their congressional buddies (often former colleagues in the state legislature).

          So, yeah, I could get behind this.Report

        • Avatar Pub Editor in reply to Jesse Ewiak
          Ignored
          says:

          Of course, multi-member districts also reduce the opportunities and effectiveness of gerrymandering, in part because multi-member districts => fewer districts to draw. Note: reduce, not eliminate. Just saying.Report

        • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Jesse Ewiak
          Ignored
          says:

          Jesse,

          Do you actually know what the Iowa model is?Report

          • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to James Hanley
            Ignored
            says:

            Yup. It’s a nonpartisan comission that isn’t allow to consider political criteria at all. Which sounds nice.

            From what I’ve read, the problem with the Iowa model is that basically, Iowa’s a square state that’s relatively balanced politically, lacks major urban centers, has lots and lots of counties, and not enough minorities to trigger the VRA.

            Like I said, I think there’s ways to make the model less partisan and less gerrymandered, but even if you make it less partisan, for instance, you’d have people in Houston complaining if there’s 2 people on the commission from Dallas and only 1 from Houston.

             Report

            • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Jesse Ewiak
              Ignored
              says:

              OK, good.

              I think the Iowa model would work elsewhere as well.  But to say it’s a good model should not be taken as suggesting it’s the only model.

              On a side note: Most of the students in a class I teach for an Iowa CC aren’t familiar with their own state’s model.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to James Hanley
                Ignored
                says:

                We’re writing in a reasonably intelligent political site comments section. We’re both political dorks to a certain degree. So, I’m not insulting your students here, but I’d hope you’d give me more credit than them. 🙂Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Jesse Ewiak
                Ignored
                says:

                Jesse,

                I have to admit that I honestly don’t know how widespread familiarity with the Iowa model is, even on a site like this.  Please forgive my doubt, and accept my respect that were familiar with it.

                Hell, I only learned about it a couple of years ago.  You may have known about it long before me!Report

              • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to James Hanley
                Ignored
                says:

                This doesn’t surprise me overmuch. Districting is something of a wonkish topic even for political scientists. It’s certainly not as sexy as the presidency.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley
                Ignored
                says:

                Addendum,

                Beyond non-partisan redistricting, what the goal really should be is to maximize, to the extent possible, competitive districts.

                Since that’s not always possible, multi-member districts are worthy of consideration, too.  It’s actually my preferred solution.  For small states it would require increasing the size of the House, but it’s too small now anyway–we no longer have proper proportional representation.Report

              • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to James Hanley
                Ignored
                says:

                Part of me thinks that rather than distinct districts, states should just have a block of house reps and folks can vote for parties rather than candidates with a proportional representation in the House and direct candidate votes for Senate…boy that would screw things up (possibly in a good way)

                It would also test Duverger’s Law and we’d see if the US in fact would have a multiparty system afterwards.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Nob Akimoto
                Ignored
                says:

                I think Duverger’s law would come through pretty good.  In relatively homogeneous states like ND, we might not find more than a token third party, but in a more diverse state we’d find some real divergence.  It would probably take some time, as we’d have lots of cultural history and tradition to overcome.

                Another relevant rule is Arend Lijphart’s m+1 rule, a suggestion that the maximum number of meaningful political parties is the number of delegates per district +1.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to James Hanley
                Ignored
                says:

                I teach for an Iowa CC

                Online? That’s the future of academia, no? It’s one (only one!) of the reasons I’m not an academic now. Good on ya James. How do you like the experience of ‘off-site’ instruction?Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Stillwater
                Ignored
                says:

                Mixed feelings.  Some classes–I do Am Gov and Pub Admin–work just fine online, for good students.  Bad students are badly served by online ed.  Some topics just won’t work in an on-line setup.  Basically, the easier something is to learn on your own–anybody could learn introductory public administration on their own, if they just put in the effort–the more suitable it is for online.

                And while there’s lots of upfront course-building effort, once you get it perfected it’s plug and play without much work involved for the paycheck.  I usually get emails primarily when there’s something not working well in the course module or when students are having life issues that are causing them to fall behind.  My course module is so perfected now* that I’ve only had one email so far this term.  That’s actually not good because it’s too easy for me to stop paying attention and half forget about the course.

                *Not as in I think it’s a perfect set up, but as in it functions without errors.Report

              • Avatar Mary in reply to James Hanley
                Ignored
                says:

                “Some classes… work just fine online, for good students.  Bad students are badly served by online ed.”

                Agreed. 1,000 x agreed.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Mary
                Ignored
                says:

                Have you taught online, or been a student online?  I’d be interested in hearing your experience, whichever it is.Report

              • Avatar Mary in reply to Mary
                Ignored
                says:

                Student. I completed my undergraduate degree last year. I have taken approximately 15 classes online. They worked well for me, but you are right; online classes do not work well for “bad” students. There is a great deal of reading and writing. If a student has a learning disability, they will not be served well by online education. If a student is not dedicated, driven, organized and/or great at managing their time and developing a pace that works well for them, they will not be served well by this alternative education opportunity.

                At this point in time, I would rather eat dirt than take another course online. Although the classes were convienant, I missed out on a lot by not ever meeting my instructor or classmates. A lot is sacraficed when people do not gather and discuss the topic being studied. I feel like the online experience strengthens the feelings of distance and intimidation that some students experience when attempting to learn about something they are not competant or confident in.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Mary
                Ignored
                says:

                I took one online class in college, and another video course. I think you’re right about motivation. That being said, it’s a potentially low-cost solution in an industry that needs it. Of course, very few have actually delivered on the low cost (I get the impression that they’re real profit-centers even at non-profit u’s).

                Anyhow, I wrote on this a while back.Report

              • Avatar Mary in reply to Mary
                Ignored
                says:

                “a potentially low-cost solution in an industry that needs it. Of course, very few have actually delivered on the low cost”

                Tell that to my student loans. There really is little to no upside of online courses unless they start making them more afforable.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Mary
                Ignored
                says:

                Yeah, not low-cost for students.  It’s about convenience.  Lots of my students are Iowa, Iowa State, and Northern Iowa students picking up an extra course.  Lots of others are working folks who can’t take time out to go to college the regular way.  They’re the good students.  Others are just out of high school or just starting college after a few years out of high school–most of them don’t do well.

                They are good profit centers for the schools, though.  You can pack in a lot more students without having to expend so much on infrastructure.  The marginal cost per student is very very low.Report

              • Avatar Mary in reply to Mary
                Ignored
                says:

                “The marginal cost per student is very very low.”

                When education becomes more about money than what the students are learning and how they are retaining and applying what they learn, I get a little nervous about our country’s future.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Mary
                Ignored
                says:

                The WGU experiment looks rather promising, to me. The problem, to date, is that it’s primarily being tried by either (a) for-profit institutions or (b) non-profit institutions that need the profit center and have a vested interest in college not becoming cheaper. WGU seems to break that mold. I’m hoping more come around the bend.Report

    • Avatar Katherine in reply to Nob Akimoto
      Ignored
      says:

      *applause*Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Nob Akimoto
      Ignored
      says:

      I like this one a lot.  I’d be interested in seeing how you got a working bipartisan committee to work on this.Report

  31. Avatar James Hanley
    Ignored
    says:

    This isn’t really my very first mostest important one, but the federalism amendment and constraints on the executive have already been mentioned (the best method for that is to ditch the office and go parliamentary; e.g., what Steve S. is, I think, suggesting), and any suggestions that more strongly secure our negative liberties will probably win my support.  So here goes, my anti-rent-seeking amendment.

    Congress shall make no law or allocate any money, nor shall the executive branch make any regulation, the purpose or primary effect of which will be to promote the interests of any identifiable economic interest over that of any other identifiable economic interest.  This shall not be construed to deny Congress the authority to pass regulatory laws of general applicability, or of the executive branch to promulgate regulations giving effect to those laws.

    Report

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to James Hanley
      Ignored
      says:

      James, I like it!!

      But does ‘identifiable economic interest’ include class divisions?Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Stillwater
        Ignored
        says:

        Still,

        I’m inclined to think not, but I’d listen to arguments either way, and to suggestions for revising it to clarify that very question (whichever way we decide to go on it).  That is, I’m not looking to end welfare programs or Social Security. The amendment is actually more modest than that.Report

        • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to James Hanley
          Ignored
          says:

          This seems to me to make programs like ARPA-E or DARPA illegal. Am I misreading it?Report

          • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Nob Akimoto
            Ignored
            says:

            Nob,

            If the primary purpose or effect of DARPA is to enrich particular corporations, then it should be killed.  However, as much as enriching particular corporations is an effect of DARPA, I don’t think it would take a particularly skilled attorney to persuade the Supreme Court that the primary purpose and effect of DARPA is about national security.

            Just as hiring Joe’s Cleaners to provide janitorial service on the National Mall would enrich Joe, but not be the primary purpose or effect of the action.

            And let’s be sure these questions are in the legislative history, so the Supremes will understand what we do and don’t intend!Report

            • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to James Hanley
              Ignored
              says:

              Well the wording is “purpose or primary effect”. Which leads me to think that any program that’s targetted with the intention of creating tax incentives to grow a particular sector of the economy would be considered verboten under this amendment. I’m happy to be convinced otherwise, and I’d imagine a skilled attorney WOULD be able to argue otherwise.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Nob Akimoto
                Ignored
                says:

                any program that’s targetted with the intention of creating tax incentives to grow a particular sector of the economy would be considered verboten under this amendment.

                Yes, it would.  That’s a good part of the purpose of the initiative, because growing particular sectors is nearly always either a code for, or results in, growing particular favored businesses that just suck off the public teat.

                But DARPA survives. It’s got a primary purpose separate from benefiting an economic sector or business.

                ARPA-E?  Maybe.  I think it depends on whether judges are persuaded that its defenders are right about its real purpose or persuaded by its critics about its real purpose.  What the amendment might do is force the government to take greater steps to ensure that ARPA-E is fulfilling its real purpose, and not paying off political supporters or supporting jobs in Congressman Smith’s district (e.g., the second engine for the Joint Strike Fighter, to have been built in John Boehner’s district).

                I won’t pretend that there wouldn’t be tough cases (and that’s why we have the courts), and in return I hope others will admit that tough cases isn’t a knock against an amendment.  Which isn’t to say it’s not appropriate to point out which cases are likely to be tough–it’s useful, both for clarification and to help people decide whether they would approve the amendment or not.Report

              • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to James Hanley
                Ignored
                says:

                I guess I’m a bit more sympathetic to strategic growth models and developmental economics than you are, so I find the concept of outlawing it a bit less useful than not.

                It’s an interesting amendment. I’d have to chew on it a bit to think it through.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Nob Akimoto
                Ignored
                says:

                Nob,

                Do you think that’s a consequence of our national backgrounds? (Me American, you Japanese)Report

              • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to James Hanley
                Ignored
                says:

                Think that’s likely. Might also be a consequence of our relative areas of expertise.Report

            • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to James Hanley
              Ignored
              says:

              “[H]iring Joe’s Cleaners to provide janitorial service on the National Mall would enrich Joe, but not be the primary purpose or effect of the action.”

              Er, enriching Joe would most certainly be a primary effect of that action, unless you’re suggesting that any Federal contractor would be required to operate at a loss, which is an intriguing notion but probably wouldn’t be very popular.

              Alternatively, maybe what you’re suggesting is that there would no longer be any such thing as a privately-contracted government services.  Anyone who does anything for the government must be a civil servant.  Again, interesting–you’ll nationalize every industry in the country!Report

              • Avatar Ryan Bonneville in reply to DensityDuck
                Ignored
                says:

                Seems to me that if Joe is good at his job, the primary effect of that action would be having a cleaner National Mall. Unless he’s really gouging the Treasury.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Ryan Bonneville
                Ignored
                says:

                If that’s the case, then the proposed amendment is almost meaningless, because it’s always going to be possible to argue that the “primary effect” of an action is the performance of a service.

                Note that the amendment is written in terms of competition–“promote economic interests of one over another”.  So the Bridge To Nowhere is still legal under this amendment.  About the only thing it would disallow would be eminent-domain takings, which are something that the Constitution explicitly permits–and if you want to prevent that happening then that’s what you should write the amendment to do.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to DensityDuck
                Ignored
                says:

                Duck,

                I really think your criticisms are way off target.

                So the Bridge To Nowhere is still legal under this amendment.

                Of course. Ideally we would be able to always distinguish between useful and pointless infrastructure, but that’s not a reality.  Infrastructure has to be allowed, and so some pure pork barrel projects will get through, because one man’s pork barrel is another man’s crucially necessary infrastructure project that will protect the public from floods, terrorists, etc. etc.

                The idea that eminent domain would be banned is, to be blunt, idiotic.  The primary purpose and effect of eminent domain–as originally understood–is for the purpose of public projects.  The person whose property is taken almost never considers themselves enriched.  To the extent this amendment would be interpreted as preventing Kelo type eminent domain actions, then halla-fishing-lula.  The owners of the Texas Rangers got the state to condemn land around what became Texas Stadium, then give it to them cheap so they could enrich themselves–that is one of the things we’re trying to prevent.  Stopping the state from taking my house for a public school?  No, not at all.

                And this amendment would ban Obama’s tire tariffs, Bush’s steel tariffs, the ethanol subsidies that enrich ADM (well, if  the Court saw through the fake anti-pollution argument–but I don’t expect the amendment will stop everything, just stop more than is stopped now).Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to James Hanley
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                says:

                Ideally we would be able to always distinguish between useful and pointless infrastructure, but that’s not a reality.

                This was brought up in Jason’s post about procedural v substantive justice. It’s impossible to write legislation which excludes all the way someone might interpret or manipulate it to their own advantage.

                I view which DD explicitly endorsed in that thread!Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to DensityDuck
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                says:

                Duck,

                If that’s the likely interpretation of my amendment, then it needs to be revised for clarity.  It’s absolutely not intended to end government contracting.  It’s designed to end government spending whose primary intent is rent-seeking.  If there is competitive bidding for trash services on the National Mall, and Joe wins by whatever fair set of rules is set up (e.g., it’s not somehow a rigged bid), then the primary purpose is not to enrich Joe, and the primary effect is a clean mall.  Joe’s enrichment is of little moment–in fact we don’t actually care whether Joe makes money or not.  If he underbids and loses his shirt, that’s his problem, and of no concern to us.  If he fails to fulfill his contract due to having underbid, then his contract is canceled and its up for bids again.

                So perhaps my specific words in the amendment could use some tightening, but I don’t think it’s hard to make clear why such contracting out isn’t forbidden.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to James Hanley
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                says:

                “It’s designed to end government spending whose primary intent is rent-seeking.”

                Isn’t that already within the GAO’s charter?Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to DensityDuck
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                says:

                Uh, the GAO can point out that something is rent-seeking, but that’s not at all binding on Congress.  I want to tie their hands so tight they atrophy from blood loss and fall off.

                 Report

        • Avatar Stillwater in reply to James Hanley
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          says:

          Good. I think the phrasing could accommodate this: a uniquely (or individually) identifiable economic interest. Or some such. You know how lawyers like to play with words.Report

    • Avatar b-psycho in reply to James Hanley
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      says:

      Well, it’d definitely reveal just how much of government consists of rent-seeking by the difficulty in complying with it (all of it, I’d argue)…Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to b-psycho
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        says:

        b-psycho,

        No, not all of government consists of rent-seeking.  But yes, lots of it does, and hopefully we’d successfully eliminate large portions of that.  And the parts that don’t consist of rent-seeking do attract it, and hopefully we’d get rid of large portions of that, too, and run those portions without so much waste.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to James Hanley
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      says:

      James, this seems like a good intentioned amendment that would make all government and legislation impossible.  Having one part of a community have interests supersede others is pretty much part and parcel of civil society.  When my mom was retired, she didn’t drive at all, but we still built and repaired roads of those that did.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Tod Kelly
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        says:

        Tod, but other drivers weren’t going to object if your mom did drive, thinking she was stealing their special benefits.  Hence the caveat about generally applicable laws and regulations.  My intent was for that phrase to cover everything from “you can’t steal anyone’s TV (even though that benefits the TV owner to the disadvantage of the TV stealer) to “yes, Congress can fund a septic system for Hoboken, NJ to protect the water quality in New York Harbor.”Report

        • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to James Hanley
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          says:

          I think the point I was trying to make is that you can make an argument with almost any proposed law or law on the books that it favors one group over another.  Were this in place now, for example, I have a nightmarish vision of what the GOP would be doing with it.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to James Hanley
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      says:

      I think maybe what I’d like to see is a specific example of:

      *The kind of event you target with this proposed amendment.

      *How the current regulatory and legal regime did not prevent this event.

      *How the proposed amendment would be applicable to this event.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to DensityDuck
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        says:

        Duck,

        Almost everything corporate lobbyists are pushing would fall under this.  But here’s a specific example.

        1. Barack Obama imposed tariffs on imported Chinese tires, to protect American tire manufacturers who didn’t like the competition.

        2. The current regulatory and legal regime didn’t prevent this because the Constitution specifically gives Congress the authority to create tariffs, an authority they’ve delegated in certain cases (like this one) to the president.  (That is, they’ve authorized retaliatory tariffs, and leave it up to the president to determine when they’re appropriate.)

        3. The proposed amendment would prohibit this tariff because there is no generally applicable purpose to them; both their primary purpose and primary effect is to promote the interests of an identifiable economic interest–low-cost tire manufacturers–against the interests of the general public (i.e, American consumers).Report

        • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to James Hanley
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          says:

          If that’s the argument, then this proposed amendment could therefore make any regulation illegal, unless that regulation were shared across the entire planet.  Because regulations imposed on domestic businesses but not foreign ones would result in the promotion of an identifiable economic interest (anyone who does business anywhere in the world) against the interests of another identifiable economic interest (anyone who only manufactures products or does business in the USA)Report

  32. Avatar greginak
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    says:

    How about giving more explicit privacy protection to personal information like health ( I’m thinking mostly about DNA) and credit records. Nobody should have access to any of my credit records ( or even derived credit scores) without my explicit permission. Nobody should be able to access the info in my DNA without my explicit permission nor should there be any repercussions for withholding that info. The info in our DNA will only become more valuable to insurance companies over time but it is intimately ours and nobody should poke their nose in my DNA unless i want their nose there. There is all sorts of data on us out there and that will only become more prevalent, however we should have more control over that.Report

  33. Avatar Jaybird
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    says:

    Oh, the other one would be that “all laws must sunset after X years”.

    Pass them again, if you still want them. If you can’t pass them, we shouldn’t have them.Report