CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM

The US Constitution has been the overriding law of the land for over 230 years. It has been amended 27 times. The Amendment process is slow and cumbersome. This may be by design. In my opinion, many aspects of the Constitution have become unwieldy and hold overs from a no longer relevant era.

I have some thoughts for reform, which I will present here. This list is not meant to be exhaustive.

  • The ERA must be ratified. It is about 200 years overdue. I looked online and its status is a hot mess. We need to fix this. I don’t know if this would provide a permanent fix for the Dobbs decision, which also needs to be fixed
  • The electoral college must be eliminated. Everything must be by popular vote. That is the easiest type of Democracy to understand. If it wasn’t for the electoral college, we wouldn’t be in the mess we are now in.
  • Supreme Court reform: The number of justices should always be the number of district courts. The number of district courts should always be an odd number. When the number of district courts is expanded, the expansion of the number of Supreme Court justices should be adjusted automatically. There should be term limits. The term should be the number of district courts in years with one new justice appointed each year. The terms of the existing justices would be adjusted based on the number of years served in descending order to coincide with the one appointment per year schedule. In the case of resignation due to illness or whatever, an appointment would be made to fill the unexpired term. In either case, at the end of the term, if its warranted, the justice can be renominated for another term, going through the full vetting process. As part of any vetting process, candidates must release five years of tax returns and financial statements, to be thoroughly scrutinized by the FBI and Forensic accountants. A viable system of ethics review and recusal must be set to prevent conflicts and the integrity of the court. The appointments would become effective, coincident with the retirements, on June 1 of each year. In the event of a resignation, the current president shall nominate the replacement if they are of the same party as the president who nominated the retiree or there is more than six months left in the term of the current president and the appointment will become effective as soon as confirmed.
  • Senate reform: All rules of the type as the filibuster must be abolished forever. It doesn’t make sense in a democracy. The whole structure of the Senate is anti-democratic. States such as South Dakota and Wyoming should not have the same influence as states such as California, New York, and Pennsylvania. I would like to see the Senate go away completely, but that’s not going to happen so aggregating their vote with the house on bills would cut down on the unfairness.
  • Second Amendment reform: The Second Amendment was created to make foreign powers think twice about invading a country weakened from a bloody revolution. Elimination of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines aren’t going to change that. The Second needs some clarification to become a reasonable law of the land. Its purpose would be served with 25% of the weapons currently available. What country would attack the largest defense budget in the world?

HUMANITY

I can only live, be alive when all aspects of my personality, who I am, what I believe, are allowed to flourish fully. Be at one with the world. I must expose myself to the world without suppressing their right to do the same. To say we tolerate something, or someone is to imply something is wrong and we are benevolently giving it a pass. Unless the person is a genuine psychopath or sociopath, there is nothing to tolerate, they are ok. We must both acknowledge and allow differences. We all need to be good people and respect humanity. We all benefit from this.

THE MISSION

When I decided to start writing again, the immediate question is what to write about. When the random topic pops into my head, I will feel free to write about it. The thing left hanging from some of my previous writing is my solution to all the World’s problems. This has been racing around in my brain for some time. One of the things I found with my previous writing is getting something down in writing allows the brain some peace. The ideas are preserved. Its time for another brain cleanse.

One of the things I see lacking is most of the cries I read for this reform or that reform or improvement is a sense of how it all fits together. I believe the world is one big living organism. Everything effects everything else. Take for example the $15 minimum wage. The moral philosopher Harry Frankfurt has the concept of sufficiency. Is this sufficient? What must be paid out of this? Does it include health care. What about the escalation of the cost of living? What about the variation in the cost of living in different areas of the country? What about special needs? What about families, multiple wage-earning families, childcare, etc.? Surely increasing the minimum wage will benefit a lot of people, but what is the intent? What are we trying to achieve? Will this accomplish our goals? Everyone has different actual needs. If it is indeed inflationary, will it be adequate after its effects are rolled into the economy?

Borrowing again from Frankfurt, what is sufficient? The immorality of the huge income disparity existent now is not that the rich are so rich, but the poor aren’t elevated to a level of sufficiency. Then there is the problem of Climate Change and planet resource cannibalization. What about the goal of global political stability, human rights, global economic disparity. All this in a context of a future in which computers and robots will be performing an increasing percentage of the world’s output of goods and services. Our task in thinking about this, let alone integrating it all is almost overwhelming. Is mankind up to the Task?

One of the biggest problems we face is no governmental body is anxious to implement any policy that might inconvenience or irritate the electorate. The other problem is the world is primarily controlled by the money interests that are the poster definition of selfish.

I am not looking for the world to accept my concepts. I want the world to be aware of them, let a little of it sink into their thinking and get their brain up off the sofa and start working on the solution. We are working on the problems with a delicate surgical scalpel when we should be using a meat axe.

LIBRARY TIME

I do, what to some is, a lot of reading. I have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. Due to my space and budget limitations, I purchase very few books. My main source is the library. I like to do a lot of things they way it is recommended not to, therefore I select many of my books by the cover. I usually check out more than I can read before they are due. If I start reading and the writing is poor or the subject is presented in an uninteresting manner, I just close the book and move on to the next. I have started keeping a list of the books that I have finished. I didn’t keep track of when I started the list, but I will guess it was around September of 2022. I can see that most of the books on the list have impacted the way I think. The last week or so, the reading has been a little heavy, so I cleansed by binge watching the first season of “The Good Place” on DVD, also checked out of the library. I am providing the list here, not as recommendations, but as background to my writing.

authortitlecommentscatalog number
    
MACDONALD, HECTORTruthhow truth can be selectively manipulated to create competing truths121
Harris, SamFree Willhis argument is we don’t have it123.5
CLEARY, SKYE CHOW TO BE AUTHENTIC 142.78
KORKKI, PHYILLISThe Big thinghow to tackle a big project of your own making153.3
VEDANTAM, SHANKARUseful Delusions: the Power & paradox of the Self-deceiving braininsightful153.4
PETROCELLI, JOHNThe Life-changing Science of Detecting Bullshit 153.42
GILBERT, DANIELSTUMBLING ON HAPPINESSHOW THE IMAGINATION WORKS158
BENNETT, MICHAEL AND  BENNETT, SARAHF*ck Feelingspragmatic approach to feelings, and life problems158
SYFRET, WENDYThe Sunny Nihilista different take on philosophy158
LIVINGSTON, GORDONToo Soon Old, Too Late SmartThis was a saying my grandfather used to say. The book contains 31 short pieces of wisdom158
Jones, LucyLosing EdenHow nature effects our physical and mental wellbeing.304.2
PIKETTY, THOMASA Brief History of Equalitya good primer on equality and the reasons for growth and some needs for the future. Told from the French perspective.305
GORNICK, VIVIANThe Solitude of selfbiographical essay on Elizabeth Cady Stanton305.42
GLADSTONE, BROOKSThe Trouble with Realityshort but very informative on the current political scene306.2
RUSSO, FRANCINELOVE AFTER 50GOOD READ306.7
BENNETT, MICHAEL AND  BENNETT, SARAHF*ck Lovepragmatic approach to relationships306.7
BISHOP, GARY JOHNLove Unfu*kedgood advice in general306.7
Thaler, Richard HMisbehaving: The making of behavioral economics 330.019
Kishtainy, NiallA Little History of Economicsgood background330.09
REICH, ROBERT B.SAVING CAPITALISMThe problems with capitalism and some possible solutions330.973
Gates, BillHow to Avoid a Climate Disastergood baseline363.738
COLE, JONI BGood Naked: Reflections on How to Write More, Write Better & Be Happierwriting resource808.02
SMIL, VACLAVNumbers Don’t Lie: 71 Stories to Help Us Understand the Modern Worldinteresting factoids909
Moore, LEONARDTeaching Black History to White Peoplegood primer973.0496
FRANKFURT, HARRYOn Bullshitgood read 
FRANKFURT, HARRYOn Inequalitygood read, good campanion to “A Brief History of Equality” by Piketty 
FRANKFURT, HARRYThe Reasons of Loveclassic philosophical reasoning 

REPUBLICANISM CIRCA 1956

In a recent post, I mentioned the 50-75 year cycle of our relative humanity to our fellow man. Months ago, I saw a Tweet with an image of the 1956 Republican platform (66 years ago). I have written the items from that Tweet here:

  1. Provide federal assistance to low-income communities
  2. Protect Social Security
  3. Provide asylum for refugees
  4. Extend minimum wage
  5. Improve unemployment benefit system so it covers more people
  6. Strengthen labor laws so workers can easily join a union
  7. Assure equal pay for equal work regardless of sex

While doing a little research for this, I came across the complete text of the Republican platform published around August 1956. Here is the link:  https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/documents/republican-party-platform-1956

There are many other points in the text including strong voting rights, belief in science, need for better education, better health care, stronger NATO and the list goes on. The text is long, and it took me an hour to assimilate. Today’s Republican party would agree with less than 10% of it’s contents. What has happened? They wrote this. This is what they stood for.

CURRENT STATE

As I sit here, in my new writing chair, in the last week of 2022, I am struck by the thought of what a mess the world is in. That’s not to say everything is bad. We have made some genuine progress in 2022. The travesty is the progress came from such a low base. I read a lot. Someplace in my reading I saw we (the world, the US, you pick) go through cycles of our levels of humanity. They usually last about 50-75 years. We are at the bottom now. The bottom seems to be coated with some sticky shit that is making it difficult to get out. I really hope it doesn’t take 75 years to dig our way out, because I don’t think we have 75 years left if we don’t make some huge strides very soon. Things like climate change, income inequality and social justice are hurtling to the point of no return. I have also read about some cause for optimism. I only hope the crossover point is before we are looking up from the abyss and can’t reach the top.

I have many ideas running around in my head on how I would address the problems of the world. I don’t know if all of them are workable and I’m certain we don’t have the fortitude to implement them in a timely manner. I don’t know if I will be able to stay at the task long enough to get them all published

WRITING V3.1

It’s too easy to find reasons not to write. Depending on the situation and subject, writing can be difficult and motivation scarce. About 9 months ago, I moved into an RV. I’ve written a little about this and will write more. The reason I mention this is I’ve used the logistics of writing in an RV to stall my writing. The space just wasn’t convenient enough. I finally came to a solution. I built a desk that fit the space available and functioned the way my peculiar tastes wanted. Then I found an excellent sitting solution (some might call this a chair) on evil Amazon (more about Amazon’s “evils” later). It was more than I wanted to pay but I “bit the bullet” and ordered it. It works perfectly for my situation, and I am sitting on it now as I write this. I have exhausted all my excuses for not writing. Now I am only left with that well known NIKE advertising slogan “Just Do It.” I have ideas swirling around in the noggin.

I just finished reading a book on writing motivation and how to have fun writing. One of the pointers was to just start writing. Its not necessary to start at the beginning. Just put something down and keep typing and life will fill in around it. This little ditty is an example of that in practice. It does feel good to get something down on paper, even if it is of little social import.

I’ve been reading a lot in the interim on many different subjects. My views on many things have been colored by this reading. These authors will be heard in the background as part of the chorus that hopefully gives depth to my writing.

A DIFFERENT ROAD

Usually, when I post poetry, it is light or inspirational. I have read the human brain has fifty thousand random thoughts a day and a certain percentage of them can be a little dark. I am posting two poems today that might not be considered “light”. You be the judge, as you always should be.

Poem 10

Pain is the universal teacher
It can guide us into a different place
It shows us the light
It shows us the dark
Sometimes it’s just a spark
Its contrast helps us life to embrace
It revels in its might
It caresses us with its deception
Sometimes we miss the inception
It travels like the wind
Its consistency can be like a friend
It can be an evil addiction
We must fight to make the transition
It blocks the road to our wonder land
It troubles the human race
All who are familiar are not our friend

Poem 11

The subconscious has an agenda
It consistently travels towards the goal
We can’t guide it
Where would we send it?
Experience is a callous teacher
We are learning the direction of the flow
Examine your perceived goals
Are they sending you down a rabbit hole?
Manage your life, it’s your soul

INDIVIDUAL INCOME TAX HISTORY

I sometimes have a tendency to make things more complicated than necessary. I will try to resist that here because Income Tax is already as complicated as it needs to be. My purpose in this post is to show the history of income tax rates to have a basis for future discussions. To do this, I made some arbitrary assumptions to have a thread to follow. All the data in this post is based on that fabled family of four. As the baseline income, I used the poverty level as defined by the US Census Bureau. They first reported this number in 1959 and the latest data readily available is 2020. The values correlate .9968 with the June through June change in the Consumer Price Index, so I used these values to fill in 1952-1958 and 2021 on my chart. I plotted six different levels of income to show the relative effect of the rate structure on their tax liability. The case I call INDV1 is the poverty level as defined and reported by the US Census Bureau.  INDV2 is twice that level, INDV5 is five times the poverty rate, etc., INDV25, INDV50, INDV100. Their 2021 gross income before exemptions and standard deduction is shown below:

                                INDV1                   27,925
                                INDV2                   55,849
                                INDV5                   139,623
                                INDV25                 698,113
                                INDV50                 1,396,226
                                INDV100              2,792,452

I took 4 exemptions and the standard deduction for each year to arrive at the taxable income. The chart shows the PERCENTAGE of income paid in taxes in each year.

The bottom three income categories have seen relatively little change over the period from 1952-2021. The top three categories saw some very dramatic change during the 1980’s.

My data us from the following sources:

https://inflationdata.com/Inflation/Consumer_Price_Index/HistoricalCPI.aspx?reloaded=true

https://www.taxpolicycenter.org/statistics/standard-deduction

https://www.census.gov/data/tables/time-series/demo/income-poverty/historical-poverty-people.html

AN OLD POEM

I also publish some poetry on Quora.com. According to them, I have 35 posts. Most of them have less than 100 views. One of them has 1800 views. I have previously published it here, but I am going to publish it again. It’s something we need more of in these trying times.

HOPE

Man looks up with a vacant stare
He knows there’s hope, just not where
It came to him one night
In a blinding flash of light
A smile came across his face
There is hope for the human race
Knowledge is the path to what is right
It scrapes away the simmering blight
Leaving the raw beauty without a trace