The Time Has Come

                I believe that the time has come for the sovereign citizens of the United States of America to take an intense look at the structures of what history will remember as the greatest government in world history to date; that Republic our forefathers ordained for us and bequeathed to us.  In the preamble to the 1789 constitution the founders put forward the purpose of the basic rule for our Republic, they spoke of “A more perfect union.”  While our current constitution has allowed the United States of America to flourish beyond the wildest dreams of 18th Century humankind, I believe some critical adjustments need to be made to guarantee to our posterity an ongoing Republic that continues to strive to be more perfect. 

                There were many key features of life in the United States dating from colonial times that were such common experience and shared culture.  The best of the mores and values of the time were not enshrined in a specific way into the founding law.  It is beyond time to remedy that.  Many features of life as it was and the values that formed the bedrock of our ordered liberty need today to be further amplified or enunciated in the document that forms the modern covenant that spells out the way We the People can agree to and by which we will govern ourselves.

                As stipulated in the Declaration of Independence, governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes.  The political crossroads we find ourselves at is serious enough to warrant this keen and overdue look at our constitution and our Republic.  I believe we’ll find that what we have, while not quite sufficient for today, should not be set aside at all.  But we no longer face “Light and transient causes.”  The issues we deal with today must be confronted, and we have to give our founding document the improving changes it needs in order to ensure it continues to work. 

                Our system of federal government has worked because of the checks and balances authored into it.  But the federal government is becoming less tenable, less manageable, and worst, less accountable to the people whose rights it was designed to secure.  As the government becomes less accountable to the people, it becomes less responsive to the checks and balances imposed upon it by federal principles; it becomes less responsive to the voice of the people.  It could then become less of a government by, for, and of the people and more of a government that accrues power unto itself for its own ends; rather than a government meant to secure the blessings of liberty for the people it was meant to serve. 

                The 1789 constitution was, in the words of one author, a 5,000-year leap forward in human progress.  Nothing quite like it had ever been conceived.  And yet it contained within it a key flaw that in less than four-score-and-seven years would leave the country tending to some hundreds of thousands of wounded and dead, and dealing with the political scars of civil war. 

                While the major flaw was corrected by nothing less than a war, other less weighty issues were changed using the constitution’s amendment process stipulated in Article V.  Amendments were a key part of the constitution from its inception, as the original required the “Bill of Rights” amendments to ensure its passage and acceptance.  While many necessary changes to the constitution have been made, other necessary changes have become rare; and many changes, necessary and otherwise, have come to pass using methods and procedures that We the People did not grant to the federal government.  It is becoming a critical matter that the government is beginning to fail to follow the law that We the People established for it. 

                In these latter days, due to the programmed difficulty in changing the way we allow the government to operate through the amendment process, and further due to the desire of those who would govern to will themselves power, the federal government has not been consistently content to stay within the bounds We the People established for it.  Today we are faced with a de facto rise of an ostensible “Governing class” of quasi-professional politicians, tenured judges, and bureaucratically empowered civil servants.  Unable to convince a requisite three-fourths of states’ legislatures or conventions to make structural modifications to the constitution, this new estate has taken upon itself to sidestep the boundaries set down by the wisdom of the ages; wisdom meant to form the more perfect union.  This new estate is offering rulings and judgments without the political accountability our original social compact required from such decisions.  It is time for We the People to hold this estate to account and return it to its proper position in a flatter federal hierarchy. 

                The belief that these changes have been or have not been necessary are a key dividing line for United States Americans.  However, most Americans are pragmatic at heart.  We can learn from our past, avoid the mistakes of intransigence that led to division, and work together to enshrine that which is noble and bound to ensure, for those who follow our current generations, to benefit from the blessings of liberty we will bequeath to them.  If we make these improvements, we will change the world again, and again for the better.  If we fail to make these needed changes, or if we revert to the older political ideas that either failed in their turn or failed to bring enlightenment, we will continue on a path that will ensure at best the squandering of our prosperity; and possibly something far worse. 

                Therefore, I have taken thought, and I am ready to propose some modifications that I believe will restore necessary ordered liberty while returning the Republic to a state that secures the rights of the individual sovereign people of these United States to life, liberty, and the means to peaceably pursue individual happiness. 

                As I publish the individual items, I will (attempt) to update links to them below.

                Thank you for reading! I look forward to your comments. 

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The Prelude to the First Step to Restoring Liberty

                The first of the ideas that will restore liberty-enabling checks and balances is an idea that will help first to restore the most critical balance of all:  That balance between the sovereign people whose liberty has been weakened and a federal government that has been encroaching on that liberty for decades.  The idea is so simple it will seem radical.  It may even seem to be an idea whose implementation would be so challenging as to be well-nigh impossible.  As wiser minds might have put it, the things we need to do to solve these problems are simple in concept; but they require serious effort to understand correctly, and discipline and nerve to apply the solution.  And as British former Prime Minister Winston Churchill observed “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing – after they’ve tried everything else.[i]”  My friends, I submit to you that by this point we’ve essentially tried everything else.  It is now time for us to undertake that which is simple, but difficult.  Difficult, yes.  But not insurmountably so.  If you are ready to leap with me to do the difficult work of studying briefly one of the key historical processes by which we arrived at this unfortunate juncture; if you are intellectually curious enough to patiently listen to my explanation of this challenging yet eminently simple solution; and most importantly if you find yourself willing to take the required actions; then please embark with me on this journey into the healing of our divided land.

                The Founders vested the powers to derive legislation, to make laws, in a body of persons rather than a single person.  They wisely concluded that a body of representatives of the people would be best suited to considering the need for laws, debating the efficacy of proposed laws, and the selection and ratification of ideas to codify into laws.  I think most of us probably agree that the Founders were correct; that a body of elected representatives is the best political organizational option for creating laws.  We see this not only in our own country at all levels:  Federal, State, and local; we see it in many other countries through congresses or parliaments.  In any case, the Founders believed the creation of the body that would generate laws to be of primary importance.  Hence, the first article of the Constitution dealt with the establishment of the Congress. 

                The part of Congress that was to be closest to the sovereign people was the House of Representatives.  How was it to be closest to the people? It was to be closest to the people through proportional representation. 

                Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution gives the initial number of representatives per state.  “The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at Least one Representative. . . .”[ii]

                The framers specified that at most, there should be a minimum of one representative for every state; but in general placing an upper bound on the number of representatives by limiting the total to one representative per thirty-thousand people. 

                This number is probably a bit surprising; especially to us today given the population of our country, currently estimated at close to 320 million, and the current number of representatives in the House of Representatives, 435.  Let’s establish a little context.  In 1790, the population of New York City was 33,131; the population of Philadelphia was 28,522; that of Boston, 18,320; Charleston, 16,359; and Baltimore, 13,503[iii].  Put differently, we were once electing representatives at a population level commensurate with the populations of only two or three of the largest cities per state.  For comparison, New York State, the home of about 33,000 New Yorkers in 1787, had a total population of 340,120[iv]; it was given six representatives, or about one representative per 60,000 citizens; or one representative per “Two New Yorks,” if you will. 

                The proportion today? One representative per approximately 647,000 people.

                How well-represented do you think you are?

                Let’s let social science put a number on that thought:    

                If, per Dunbar’s number, each person can be said to know 150 other people, and calculating the probability of knowing one person (ostensibly your representative), if it were a matter of straight division you would have a half-of-a-percent chance of knowing one person out of 30,000 people.  Similarly, you would have a one-quarter-of-one-percent chance of knowing one in 60,000.  Your chance of knowing one out of 647,000? About one-quarter of one-tenth of a percent.  Now while you may not have had a good chance of knowing your representative even amongst 60,000 people; the odds were much better that one of the 150 people you knew may have known your representative, and could therefore introduce you.  Your odds of someone you knew who had direct contact with the representative was probably about 12% out of 60,000 people; but only just above 1% out of 647,000 people[v].  As time goes by and the U.S. population increases, these odds are going to get progressively worse. 

                As troubling as this statistic might be to some, others might be relatively happy with the notion of a cap on the number of representatives.  They may be satisfied with their own representative.  They may believe that “Smaller government” means having only just enough representatives and that 435 total representatives is a fine number.

                Let me now put this another way that may lend pause to that notion.

                According to one source, lobbyists in 2018 spent over $3.46 billion lobbying Congress and federal agencies[vi].  The exact figures are not broken down, but if you split this into half for Congress; that’s somewhere near $3.2 million per representative and senator.  According to another source, total contributions to U.S. House candidates in 2018 were $1.55 billion[vii].  That equates to almost $3.6 million spent per House seat! Is this a good thing? Or is it a problem that needs to be addressed? Lobbying in and of itself is not necessarily bad.  We have the freedom to petition our government, and lobbying can be an effective way for a specialized and high-trust society to do this.  But how much is too much? How many lobbying interests really capture the range of concerns that each individual has, especially as lobbying becomes as concentrated as it has in recent decades with a few lobbying clients giving anywhere from $12 million up to almost $94 million[viii]?

                Given these two paramount concerns regarding representation, adequacy of representation and the amount of money spent lobbying any particular representative; I would argue that the latter is the greater concern.  But the solution I will propose will help alleviate concerns in both regards.  This solution I am about to propose is not going to be a stand-alone solution, unfortunately; but it will be one of the key reforms We the People need to make.

                We can turn the issue of money in politics into a simple exercise in supply and demand.  Demand for money is relatively static (excluding inflation) if there are 435 representatives vying for campaign dollars.  If the supply of money can also be considered inelastic, then the $3.2 million per congressional race will be the same going forward.  And any increase in lobbyist efforts will result in even more money per congressman; and presumably increased influence for the concentrated interests petitioning the government.  We the private citizens cannot hope to match our voices and meager resources to this level of influence; especially if the representatives have no personal connection to us via ourselves or our mutual friends. 

                So now I finally unveil the first of several key steps in my proposal that I believe will begin restoring liberty. 

                We the People need to act to increase our own influence with regard to the House, the body of Congress that is supposed to be closest to us.  We must take several steps to rectify the imbalance that is currently tilted in favor of the concentrated moneyed interests.

                We the People, as one of our first steps, must increase the number of representatives in the House of Representatives. 

                In future posts, I will explain how I believe we should do this, and to what extent it should be done. 

                This is one of many simple (and yet difficult) steps we will have to take.  I believe this to be one of the more important of those steps; perhaps the most important step.  This proposal will have far-ranging ramifications that will touch on the Electoral College, the Senate, and Congressional staff; it will also have an effect on the debate for term limits.  And those are ramifications for just the legislative branch! I believe I know how to approach these issues, in some cases happily synergistically. 

                Please stay tuned for further details, which I will publish as soon as I can.  Until then, please feel free to let me know what you think in the comments section.  Comments are moderated.  Please keep comments civil and to-the-point.  Thank you!  


[i] From https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/winston_churchill_135259, last accessed 8 Dec 2019

[ii] From the Transcript of the U.S. constitution found at https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/constitution-transcript, last accessed 10 Dec 2019

[iii] See http://physics.bu.edu/~redner/projects/population/cities/1790.txt, last accessed 9 Dec 2019

[iv] See https://www.nationalgeographic.org/media/us-census-1790/, last accessed 9 Dec 2019

[v] This assumes your chances of one of the 150 people you know being your representative can be calculated by dividing the number of people you know by the population in question; and assumes that each of those 150 people themselves know 50 unique individuals. 

[vi] See https://www.opensecrets.org/federal-lobbying/summary, last accessed 10 Dec 2019

[vii] See https://www.followthemoney.org/show-me?dt=1&f-fc=1&c-exi=1&c-r-ot=L&y=2018#[{1|gro=, last accessed 10 Dec 2019

[viii] See https://www.opensecrets.org/federal-lobbying/top-spenders?cycle=2018, last accessed 10 Dec 2019

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It’s Getting to Be That Time

Some time last year I began an attempt to start listing some ideas I’d been mulling. With the current day’s news, I no longer think it feasible to wait much longer while I try to find the perfect way to write out the things I’d been considering. So I’ll begin now to just start putting my ideas forward. If the ideas gain traction, I can work them into perfection another time.

I put these ideas out there in the hope that they lead to something that will make our already good society even better.

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It’s Awfully Quiet Around Here

As I’m certain has been the case for many of us bloggers, I’m more active on social media and less active on the blog.

In case you’re looking for me or my thoughts, here’s where you can find me in virtual space:

I’m semi-active on LinkedIn as a professional matter, but I post almost nothing there. Same with Experteer and Xing, but I use them even less often.

I just joined and have become more active on MeWe in recent days. I currently am trying to build interest in a group for Christians. You should be able to find me by name, but if not, try to contact me directly and I’ll look for you.

I have been on Gab for quite some time (my Gab name is @SPinRHF16). I hope Gab becomes an effective replacement for Twitter in coming months or years. You may be able to contact me through the Christianity group, the Ace of Spades readers group, MoGab, or the groups I’m trying to get launched on Gab (Lean Six Sigma, Project Management, and Program Management).

I still have a Twitter account (@CPenningroth), but I rarely check it.

I am fairly active on Facebook but am beginning to wind down participation there. I use it more often than not to keep in touch with old friends the way we used to keep in touch via e-mail. I almost never post anything substantive there.

I have a RallyPoint account but I view it less often than Twitter, not because I don’t like it, but because I can’t be everywhere. If you try to connect with me there, you’ll need to send me a direct message to let me know to check RallyPoint.

I check Goodreads from time to time and am a member of the Ace of Spades book thread readers. I’m happy to link up with friends there.

I have an Instagram account. I think I posted one picture there several years ago. I use Instagram more often than InterNations.

I have accounts with social media apps or web pages that probably no longer exist, which tells you how often I check them.

So that in a nutshell is where you can find me these days. Wherever you are, I hope you’re having a fantastic day (or night)!

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Making Things Better — Introductory Installment

There are many things to complain about in the American political process these days. I spend every major election cycle hoping things don’t get worse. Sometimes they don’t get worse, but often they do. For someone who grew up in the 1980s, this is perplexing. Those of us who grew up in the 1980s observed humanity making major progress towards global peace, fairer trade, better sustainable economic development around the globe; and a very real lessening of tensions between what we unapologetically called the “Free World” and the failed worldwide communist regimes.

If I remember my Sunday School lessons correctly, there were periods of time when people had weak leaders and wanted strong leaders.  American history bears this out to some extent.  Our forebears decided the Articles of Confederation resulted in an ineffective governing system.   Through debate, compromise, and reconciliation they drafted what would become in 1787 the Constitution of the United States.  As with any human endeavor, the Constitution was not a perfect product.  It contained within it both the seeds of its salvation and the seeds of its destruction.  That it has survived this long and been the inspiration to so many other people is a testament to the wisdom of those who created it.

The aftermath of our Civil War resulted in the elimination of slavery.  It also resulted in a federal system in which the states were relegated to a status akin to a “Super-county” (or “Super-parish” if you’re from the great state of Louisiana).  The states mattered, but less so than before.

In subsequent installments of “Weltanschauung Making Things Better” I plan to introduce some ideas that might just help restore some much-needed balance (or at least offer a new component of the foundation to build something better).

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A Change in Tactics

Apparently A-10 “Warthogs” dealing out death from the skies to bad guys wasn’t enough.

The quote of the week:  “When God sends a Plague of Wild Boars against you, he’s done sending messages, and is now sending armored bacon.” [Emphasis added][H/T Ace of Spades HQ]

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This Should be Interesting

It’ll be interesting to see what happens in the next four years…!

Normally I’d categorize a post like this as “What’s Right.”  I’m not really certain at this point.  What is certain is that it could have been worse.

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Conservative Tactics

[Warning–Not Sutiable for Viewing at Work (NSFW) or for Children due to language]
Project Veritas’ latest video:

 

If attempted voter fraud is likely, it may be useful insurance for conservatives to go rent all the cars they can on election day and make as many purchases as they can from Used Car Auction.

If the nefarious actions described in the video are likely to take place, perhaps the price of liberty is not only eternal vigilance, but also the cost of a one-day rental car.

God help us all.

Update:  If this isn’t obvious, I mean conservatives should rent cars and simply use them normally.  I neither condone committing fraud nor encourage anyone to commit fraud.

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Farewell Mrs Schlafly

Phyllis Schlafly went home yesterday. Eagle Forum has an announcement on their page today.

Phyllis Schlafly was one of the first people I remember hearing that wasn’t pushing the same line as Walter Cronkite and his ilk back in the mid-1970s as I was gaining a political consciousness.  When I listened to her argue the conservative case, it made more sense than the case made by the opposition.

Thank God for folks like her, and for Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and so many others who successfully “Stood athwart history yelling ‘Stop!'” In reality, what they did was thwart retrogression cloaked under the false banner ‘Progress.’  That’ll be the topic of an essay another time. I wish I’d been able to be the first to explain but Roger L Simon of PJ Media beat me to the use of the term ‘Retrogressive’ before I could use it.  (Apologies for the lack of a link, as best I remember, Mr Simon used the term well over five years ago).

Goodbye for now, Mrs Schlafly, and rest in well-deserved peace.

(Hat tip to Ace).

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Career Retrospective – 1990

Operation DESERT SHIELD commenced after Saddam Hussein’s Iraq invaded Kuwait.

The U.S. suffered a relatively brief economic recession.

I earned my Private Pilot certificate.

My grades were substantially better throughout 1990; however I was still only managing average grades in engineering classes and I flirted with the idea of changing majors to business and aviation.

I remember helping teach a Sunday School class during the year and working a part-time job; but little else besides that, flying, and college classes.

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