It turns out that the Electoral College, per se, is not what distorts the system so badly. It is the winner-takes-all method of allocating each state's electors. Can we break the winner-takes-all habit?
There is precedent. Decades ago, both parties allocated delegates to their national nominating conventions by winner-takes-all, until this blatant unfairness was challenged, then eliminated. So why not take the next step by dropping it from the process of choosing electors? Again, this would require no tinkering with the Constitution, though changing applicable state laws might entail a fight.
Instead of seizing assets or raising rates dramatically, Simply pass a universal world treaty declaring: If you own something, you must openly avow and say that you own it. That's it. Any property that has not been claimed by a human being, family, or clearly tracked group of humans within three years will revert to the state and be re-sold to pay down the public debt. Think about it. What does "ownership" mean, if you are unwilling to state, openly, "I own that"? So many problems in the world can be attributed to murky title, from peasants abused by a nearby lord to an oil tanker that befouled beaches in Brittany with no owner ever held accountable, because of deeply nested shell companies.
Here is a possible compromise, one of many. Moderate gun owners just might accept reforms that treat most personal weapons like motorcars -- including registration, mandatory training, licensing and insurance -- if they were also offered some surety against the dreaded slippery slope. This could consist of a grand compact permanently setting aside one class of firearms from oversight.
The principal goal that Osama bin Laden had in mind, in perpetrating the crimes of 9/11, was to lure America into an extended, interminable quagmire of attrition in the "land where empires go to die." While this may seem a bold statement that cannot be proved, it is consistent with three major facts:
1) American had to react. It was predictable where we would have to strike.
2) Osama's salad days were spent humbling one superpower in the same mountains.
3) If you were a foe of the United States, you would study which past errors almost destroyed America. Those two were Civil War and a land war of attrition in Asia. (In fact, since 9/11, it appears we've been rapidly plunged into both.)
Nothing could better indicate the turn in our national fortunes than to see science no longer dismissed as a realm of pointy-headed boffins, but viewed as part and parcel of our nation's future. It is essential to restore the Office of Technology Assessment, and other science advisory agencies in Congress.
If a sociopath’s attraction to villainy is partly engendered by hope for celebrity, might a “Herostratos law” take away some of the allure, by ensuring the opposite?
Of course things work differently today. Coerced forgetfulness is out of the question in a free society. Newspapers and journalists would have to participate voluntarily. Instead of suppressing actual facts, which are needed for accountability, good results might be achieved simply by making adjustments in style and presentation. After all, reporters assented, en masse, when Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh asked to be called “Tim” and the Unabomber said “call me Ted” instead of Theodore. If journalists accommodate murderers in this small way — as a reflex of professional courtesy — why can’t they lean a bit theother direction, after someone is convicted of gross felonies in a court of law?
Increasingly, scientific consensus is failing to influence public policy. Facts, statistics and data appear insufficient to change highly politicized minds... and science has started scrutinizing why. Alas now, this topic inevitably devolves down to our screwy American politics. And while every political wing has its anti-science flakes, growing mountains of evidence suggest that one wing has gone especially frenzied in an anti-scientific snit. Or else (as that wing contends) science itself has become corrupted, top to bottom, rendering "evidence" suspect or moot. Let's examine both possibilities.
Our professional protectors (defense, intelligence, etc) stress "anticipation" of plausible threats. Laudable. But this mind set exposes unseen gaps in preparing to withstand unexpected dangers. We must anticipate in order to detect and deter -- particularly for non-traditional foes and failure modes. Most foes share one weakness: a near-mortal allergy to accountability and light. Our most powerful tools for dealing with an uncertain future: anticipation and resiliency.
It’s a new century and time to chuck some obsolete ways of thinking. Take this bemusing realization. On paper, the sum of all obligations owed to union workers, company health plans and pension funds would make organized labor by far the biggest net owner of capital in the United States.
By some ways of reckoning, the workers already own the means of production. This was actually foreseen a long time ago.
Indeed, for decades, both labor and management have sought ways to avoid confronting this fact - for example, by separating off pension funds to be controlled by neutral specialists. Labor leaders are comfortable with an old-fashioned, adversarial relationship toward management. The idea of sharing some hybrid role terrifies them. Moreover, a few experiments in worker-ownership - such as United Airlines - seemed to prove it a bad idea. (These were contrived-to-fail.)
Was the recent election enough to make a difference?
Have the nation and Western Civilization been rescued by -- (of all people) -- the People? Indeed....What can the House of Representatives do all by itself? Some suggestions incllude: Restore Independent Advisory Agencies for science, technology and other areas of skilled analysis to counsel Congress without bias or dogma-driven pressure.
I have long believed that one key, seldom-mentioned aspect for saving megacities is the problem and opportunity of rights-of-way (RoW). Any of these megacities could be vitalized by a process that -- at first sight -- will seem brutal, but that does not have to be. It is the demolition of -- and rebuilding upon -- a 200 meter wide corridor extending from the port, to the urban center, then out to the industrial parks and airport and then countryside.Within this razed band, every major, revitalizing service can then be inserted at very low cost, using simple trenching methods: utilities, sewer systems, water, underground metros and a grand boulevard. There would also be room for new-innovative services like pneumatic tube delivery of goods, eliminating much of the truck traffic that clogs streets.
Gerrymandering lumps birds-of-a-feather till each district is “owned” by one party or another. Democratic voters in a Republican-owned district - or Republicans in a Democratic-owned district – will never cast a vote for the legislature in the only election that matters: the majority party’s primary. Unless……unless you hold your nose and re-register with whatever party owns your district. This holds true, whether you’re a Democrat in a Republican district, or vice versa. If your district is gerried to contain mostly Republicans, then it should be represented by a conservative person. But, as someone living in the district, you deserve to have some say in which conservative it will be! A Tea Party radical? Or a genteel negotiator, like Goldwater or Buckley?
Free the Inspectors General: Establish a new and important post, the office of Inspector General of the United States... or IGUS. Far from creating another vast new bureaucracy, this proposal would mostly utilize payroll slots that already exist, today. Every major department or agency has an internal Inspector General (IG) charged with examining operations and issuing warnings -- when it comes to minor infractions -- or else stepping in more vigorously when things get out of hand.
The problem? Nearly all of these inspectors owe their jobs and paychecks to the very same secretaries and directors who head the agencies they are charged to scrutinize. Often they are old pals, ensuring partiality and conflict of interest.
What to do with the prisoners currently held in Guantanamo? Or others we might capture amid a war without borders or fronts? “Prisoner of war” has very clear definitions according to the Geneva conventions. And yes, it can apply to irregular forces, even those that do not represent an official nation state.
Calling the violent men in Guantanamo "POWs "does not mean they can be tortured. In fact, the opposite. They must be treated according to Geneva protocols. But it does mean they can be held indefinitely, in a military facility on American soil, so long as hostilities continue in a plausible state of war. Moreover, there is no ticking clock to bring charges against them -- in fact, filing charges against such men might be illegal, if their actions were against even somewhat legitimate military targets. Certainly there is no requirement to mix them with the regular population of a federal penitentiary. In fact, that too violates Geneva.
We should distinguish between two kinds of foreign intervention. Those that are like “emergency room” operations and others that more resemble “elective surgery. In “elective surgery” wars, you might use elite, fast-reaction troops, sparingly, committing them for a brief time, perhaps for their ability to shock and overwhelm. Only then, the elite shock troops -- e.g. airborne and Marines -- should be withdrawn again, to concentrate on readiness for either an emergency or some more important policy endeavor. Whether a projection of force is an emergency operation or an elective enforcement of national policy -- truthful evaluation of short and long term costs is essential. If the nation must sacrifice its warriors, its treasury, its international goodwill and peace of mind, then we should be called upon to mobilize, as our ancestors did, rich and poor, to willingly pay whatever must be paid. If convinced, millions would step up to enlist. And the rich would, as in times past, come forward to offer billions.
The proposal is radical economic transparency. Imagine a simple requirement, negotiated into a treaty that encompassed the world, that is so simple it can be encapsulated in a few sentences.Anyone who owns anything larger than a small farm or shop must simply declare and avow, openly, that they own it. People should state what it is that they own, and how they came to own it.
We need a small Transaction Fee not onlybecause it will bring in revenue from the sector of the economy that made huge bonuses while wrecking our economy, restoring an emphasis on those providing new, competitively innovative goods and services. The bigger reason is that human investors won’t care about - or even be aware of - a 0.1% trade fee.
But those computerized parasitical systems will howl in agony! Thus, it will giveyou a better chance to gain from your own savvy and insight, when you log into your E-Trade account.
Let's focus on the issue of readiness. Especially the purely military aspects of readiness. Consider the fundamental premise underlying recent developments in US military doctrine, from our all-volunteer Army to improvements in education levels, from the force-multiplying effects of high technology to a daunting proliferation of strange and unprecedented new kinds of threats, each requiring new systems of training and response.
Any informed observer must be impressed with the intelligence and agility with which our skilled professional defenders have confronted every issue, addressing a bewildering variety of new dangers with enhanced skill sets and rapidly-adapting technology.
And yet, these costly trends were -- naturally -- accompanied by reductions in overall manpower, to the point where we currently have fewer active army and marine divisions than at any time since 1939.
The struggle in America today is not between left and right Instead it is between future and past. What it will take to prepare for the future is...a rededication to science. For fully half of all economic growth since 1945 was propelled by science, technology and innovation. We must decide, once again, to be a pragmatic, scientific and calmly reasonable people.
If we must make a zero-sum choice between Canadian and US health care, then by all means, let’s dump a horror story, in favor of dull, unimaginative and paternalistically meddlesome decency. But I am always suspicious of zero-sum games. If we’re to improve, we should recognize what the current U.S. system does well.
We could derive the topmost benefit of European style health care if we start by simply providing health care to all kids! Now, immediately. Without any “insurance” rigmarole. Take care of children. Period. Right away. Just do it!
The market forces that these CEOs claim to devoutly believe in should have brought CEO compensation rates back to sanity naturally, organically, through Amith's marvelous invisible hand!
In fact, many of these guys did come into management and finance earlier, for precisely that reason, drawn by hope of rich compensation, elbowing aside the Wriston-types who still thought (the old-fashioned fools) that banks should tend the mortgages they sold. Hence, the clade of super-manager golf buddies did once believe in supply and demand... back then.
Only, later, these supposed defenders of market capitalism (in theory) declared that supply and demand had no meaning at their stratospheric level of talent!
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