One concern of those who drafted the Constitution of the United States was that representatives should not have such small constituencies that the office would fail to attract able candidates. Even so, Chairman of the Convention, George Washington, called for a minimum constituency of 30,000 instead of the already approved 40,000. This was his only suggestion regarding details of the Constitution and it was adopted.
THE FEDERALIST, No. 51 states that “dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government.” No. 52 adds “… it is particularly essential that ..” the representative “… have an immediate dependence on and an intimate sympathy with the people.”
Now, with the congressional districts having average populations of about 690,000, and with only 524,160 minutes in a year, we face a very different situation. All Representatives, whatever their origins, become members of the upper class by virtue of their salaries and perks alone. The long sessions and increasing details of their involvement in nearly all matters of government, keep their minds and bodies within the confines of the “Beltway” most of the time. National journalists, pollsters, lobbyists, and congressional staff members, along with legislative “earmarks,” get them reelected. Meanwhile, it is literally impossible for them to allot one minute of their time per year to each constituent.
Our representatives should be much more numerous; they should spend most of their working time in their districts; and they should have infrequent, but authoritative votes on major public issues. In order to add that to the Constitution, I suggest the following: Proposed Amendment Page 2
FACTS TO PONDER:
The First Amendment to our Constitution is not what the First Congress proposed for that spot.
Partisan divisions of Congress and the Presidency in the second half of the twentieth century differed extremely from those in the first half.
Since 1930, no Republican President has enjoyed a partisan congressional division as favorable as Clinton’s was in 1993-1994, but all other Democrat Presidents have fared better than Clinton.
If the average Representative were to spend 1000 hours per year meeting face-to-face with individual constituents, it would not be possible to spend 10 seconds with each constituent.
In just 5 weeks of 2006, Israel lost approximately twice (as a percentage of its population) as many soldiers in Lebanon as our military fatalities in five years of the “War on Terror”.
Just the increase of violent deaths domestically, among American youths in the 1960’s and ‘70’s, exceeded our combat fatalities in Vietnam.
According to the World Health Organization’s calculations of increased malaria deaths following the ban on DDT, that policy has already been more deadly than Hitler’s “final solution”.
The pension funds held by state and local governments, and by corporations, for their employees exceed the “National Debt”.
None of the above is a secret, but none is emphasized in the mass media.
See attached link for more information. American Politics
DISASSEMBLE THE HOUSE
By Ivan W. Parkins PhD.
Access Dr. Parkins writings at:
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Perspectives For American Society
©Ivan W. Parkins 2008, All articles, text, web pages property of Ivan W. Parkins. Use of any material requires permission of the author and can be obtained by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org
About Ivan W. Parkins:
Dr. Parkins is a retired professor of Political Science from Central Michigan University. He received his PhD from the University of Chicago and is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy. Dr. Parkins served as a naval officer during WWII aboard the battleship Alabama. He is a recent widower with three daughters, 3 grand children and 2 great grand children. Dr. Parkins has written extensively, having authored 3 books and a newspaper opinion column for many years.
WHAT HAVE THE PEOPLE NOTICED?
By Ivan Parkins
Democracy rests upon an assumption that the people are well-informed. Or as Thomas Jefferson put it, “Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government. Whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they can be relied upon to set them right.”
A long life of studying, teaching, observing, and writing about American government has left me with two main conclusions. First: that the public has generally been right, and is so now in its belief that “the system” needs changing. Second: that the public is greatly confused regarding what changes are needed.
Authoritarians may deny their people some information, but mostly they brainwash them with disinformation. Old sayings about the pen being mightier than the sword can be misleading. Often the sword has been used first, to control most of the pens. The pens are then used to “disinform” the people in ways that permit most swords to remain sheathed. Once firmly established, authoritarians control virtually all schools, publishing, news facilities, and other sources of information.
Today, that is becoming more difficult. But, what if most of the pens, i.e. professional communicators, were to unite in cooperation with one another and with one political party? That is the transformation that I have witnessed in American society since World War II. Mass communication, especially television, has invaded households to an unprecedented degree. Schools and teachers have been nationalized by union and governmental actions. Possible competitors such as families and churches have been harassed and legally restricted.
The one place in our national system where information has been most extensive and public choice most informed has been presidential elections. There, three recent Presidents, (Johnson, Nixon, and Reagan ) won reelections by the largest popular pluralities and by three of the largest majorities in our history. Johnson was then discouraged from seeking the additional term for which he was legally qualified. Nixon was promptly forced to resign. Reagan survived and in many respects triumphed, but only by facing long and severe harassment.
Since then, President Clinton survived two terms in office, in spite of having been impeached by the House of Representatives and losing in the courts on the several challenges that he brought there. He and his defenders claimed that it was all over a “private sexual matter”. Congress, unwilling to face media friendly to Clinton with another election pending, left most other issues to Clinton’s own subordinates. Even so, the House indicted, and a secure room filled with hundred of documents showing evidence and testimony of witnesses was provided for the Senate. No Democrat Senator signed into that room before voting to acquit. Coincidentally, Clinton was the only President since Wilson, many years earlier to win the office twice without winning a popular majority either time.
Our current President, Bush, did win a popular majority in 2004, only a slim one, but better than any Democrat since Johnson. He has faced what have probably been the most voluminous and intense media attacks upon his Presidency and his person endured by any President.
Now, talk radio, cable television, some of the new publications, and a few websites offer promise that the people may become better informed. But several decades of public brainwashing by the media have left scars that threaten democracy in America. How can people choose a better course when they know so little about the one that we have traveled recently?
Liberalism, an Aversion to Facts
For more than two decades I believed myself to be a “liberal”, but that was four decades ago. Now, the ideas and aversion to facts, of many people who claim to be liberals seem not to have changed in those four decades. In 1971, I clipped from my newspaper a cartoon by Bill Mauldin, of WWII fame. It represented President Nixon as overseeing a huge flow of funds into Indo-China and promising some petty support for social programs. Using budget figures from standard references, I discovered that the Kennedy/Johnson Administrations had a higher average rate of military expenditures and lower social spending than Nixon’s most recent year at the time.
I wrote a letter to Newsweek magazine in Feb. 1977, in response to Lester Thurow’s column (2/14/77). Here are some excerpts.
“Lester Thurow’s column may serve better to illustrate than it does to explain the
reasons for our lagging productivity.”
“Productivity is frequently, and meaningfully, related to the quantity
and quality of machinery which a workman uses. Since 1950, the
U.S. has lagged behind the principal democracies of Europe, and far
behind Japan, in the portion of its product which it has reinvested in
new plants and machinery. At the same time, and while our military
expenditures were declining, we have more than doubled the portion
of GNP which we invested in education.”
“Blaming moneyed and military elites for America’s economic and social problems
would have appealed to me two or three decades ago. Today, it is far too popular,
and too carelessly done.”
About a year later, I wrote a letter to the editor, U.S. News & World Report (1/16/78) in response to Professor Thurow.
“Professor Thurow says, “While no one is against investment in physical assets,
we also need to invest more heavily in skills, education and other things that build
earning capacity in the future.” Is he really talking about the United States?”
In 2008, the evidence and my views have not changed greatly. Recently, I noticed that one of America’s oldest great fortunes had been liquidated, for many millions. I estimated that it was about 250 times as large as I expect my estate to be. I also checked and found, as I had expected, that the largest recent fortune, earned by a person much younger than I is about 400 times as great as the older one was.
Soaking the rich with taxation makes more sense as hate and revenge than it does as economic policy.
As long as voters believe “economic facts” quoted by celebrities without checking them against THE STATISTICAL ABSTRACT OF THE UNITED STATES or another reliable reference, our economy and our country will suffer.
Ivan Parkins- February 24, 2008