Guest Commentary – Fantasy Candidate Part 2

Thursday night brings me to part two of Jon Smith’s fantasy candidate series. I was pleased with the discussion around part one and after reading the parts that are yet to come, I am excited to be sharing this series with all of you. You already know what I think of what Jon brings to the table and this series is no exception. I am not going to write out a big introduction tonight as I am having a little trouble typing. I hurt my wrist the other day and I am still trying to figure out if it is broken or not. I guess if it is still hurting tomorrow I may have to get it looked at. Wouldn’t be the first time I have broken something and did my best to ignore it 🙂  Needless to say typing is a little tough for me to do this evening as every time I reach for certain keys the pain shoots up my forearm. Let’s all hope for the best as if it is broken that would put a serious damper on my blog writing ability. So instead of my rambling, I will simply turn it over to Jon as he continues the quest to identify the traits in a candidate that would serve the constituents of SUFA. I will add a few more pictures of my personal fantasy candidates, however!

Fantasy Candidate, Part 2: A Rod unto Themselves
by Jon Smith

 

JUST KIDDING RAY!!! I couldn't help myself.

 

This is the first of the campaign platform proposals for the ideal candidate. We start with methods to curb corruption and arrest the fall, so to speak, of our freedom, our economy, and our ideals. This first section deals with Congressional restriction. Some of these proposals would need to be Constitutional Amendments, because they impact the basic structure and procedure of government. Furthermore, they would need to be put in place without an easy path to making exceptions. Most of these things will be resisted by persons in power, but that resistance would be difficult to justify. The problem is, we have no one even proposing some of this stuff at the Congressional level because, well, no one wants to vote to restrict themselves these days. Frankly, however, anyone opposing such a thing is being rather obvious about desiring power over service of the people.

1) Term Limits. Senators like Robert Byrd who reigned in his congressional seat for over 40 years are inexcusable. The presidency was limited to two terms by precedent because it was known that power corrupts and that no one person could resist it for long. It is quite telling of even the early members of the American government that congressional members did not follow suit. A constitutional amendment should be passed limiting all congressional seats to no more than 2 terms in office. This should help curb a little of the aristocracy.

2) No exceptions allowed. Congress should not be permitted to vote themselves exceptions to any law they pass. They are no better than anyone else, they are supposed to be our representatives. In point of fact, no elected official is permitted to have royal status, and to have such negates citizenship. They are not royalty, they should not act like it. If they think it should be a law for the people, then they must abide by every bit of it, and suffer the consequences of violations. Just as a normal citizen would be.

3) Higher standards. The office of congressman, being the position of a legislator, demands a higher standard of both knowledge of the law and respect for it. Therefore, breaking the law should hold strict penalties, not personally, as they should be prosecuted in like manner to other citizens, but in relation to their particular office. A private citizen may or may not lose their job for a legal infraction, depending on the severity, but a congressperson should lose theirs, or at least be held to a much higher standard. I am not necessarily proposing they be fired for speeding, but certainly a strict standard should be adopted. Habitual lawbreaking, repeat offenses, or criminal convictions should result in the immediate removal from their office.

 

The Unsinkable Molly Brown

 

4) Constitutional Checkup. This one is based on a discussion with another blogger (Buck you know who you are). A constitutional amendment should be proposed to add a judicial committee to review bills that qualified for congressional vote. In other words, if a bill is not sponsored or supported enough to make it to the floor, no need to waste the time. If it is, then the judicial committee checks it for constitutionality. They give it a pass/fail with their reasoning. A failed bill can be rewritten and resubmitted, but the judicial committee cannot suggest or make changes, as their office is a check against the legislature, not permitted to write law or contribute to the writing of law. This will help reduce the number of bills being passed by congress that are unconstitutional, altho it will not eliminate it. Once a bill reaches one of the houses, it is subject to change as it passes between the two houses. In order to not affect this process, the committee has no further opportunity to check the bill for constitutionality, that job falls to the Supreme Court, as it does now. The Supreme Court retains its final authority, meaning that even if the judicial committee said a bill was constitutional, and it was passed without change, the Supreme Court can still decide that the bill does not pass muster.

5) No more money games. All bills involving any type of revenue, be it termed as a fine or license fee or usage tax or whatever, should fall under the same rules as new taxes. It must be started in the House, and follow all of the constitutional procedures for increasing of revenue. If it costs the people money, it must follow revenue procedures.

6) No more spending what you do not have. We need a balanced budget amendment. Period. There is no excuse for funding government with debt, with the possible exception of a truly defensive war in which we were under threat of invasion. In the current climate, this is far from likely.

7) Retention of Authority. While I am not a fan of Congress having too much authority, they do have to retain their constitutionally granted authority to maintain the checks and balances. No passing the buck, so to speak, such as to the executive branch, as happened under Bush concerning the Iraq War.

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Comments

  1. Jon,

    As I wrote on your blog on #2 (term limits), I would say 12 years max (which is two terms for Senators and 6 terms for Representatives).

  2. Another thought, likely you could fit it in as a part of #4 or let it stand on its own. ALL bills must be written in plain English that average people could understand. Years ago in police academy during the courses on writing warrant affidavits our instructors said the standard of clarity of our affidavit should be measured by walking out to a street corner and selecting a passerby and asking that person to read the warrant and answer two simple questions: 1) Using the description in the warrant can you locate the place to be searched? 2) By reading the warrant can you describe all the items being searched for? Congressional bills should live to the same standard.

    • Had a similar thought, considering our income tax system, which should be illegal since even the IRS frequently cannot tell a person if they are in compliance. All laws must be written whereby the average citizen can understand them.

      There should also be a limit on the number of laws and REGULATIONS. How many regulations are their in the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards? I can tell you the # of pages is measured by pounds, not page numbers. The point here, say seat belt retention, as new standards are adopted, the old ones should be eliminated, not just added to.

      Laws and regulations should be reviewed, and purged if obsolete, or found to not have the desired effect.

      • Agreed, there should certainly be a built in mechanism to take care of obsolete laws, and to avoid redundancy. There are a lot of laws that get passed to play political games, playing on the emotions of a current issue and passing a law to appear to be “taking action” despite laws already existing that handle that issue.

        There are also tons if laws that conflict with other laws because the lawmakers are not really knowledgeable of existing law and there is no requirement to look at existing law before writing new bills. This also is increasing the power of “precedent” in court rooms, some that is granting unconstitutional power to the legislative branch at all levels because the laws are so ambiguous or conflicting that lawyers use precedent, previous decisions, to achieve the outcome they want, thus effectively changing the law of the land, even if the written laws remain the same.

    • That is a good one on the warrant affidavits. We were taught that if it doesn’t make sense to a ten year old, it won’t fly in court – and that speaks volumes about the mental capacity of judges and lawyers . . .

  3. Buck the Wala says:

    I like #4 in theory, I really do, but I’m not fully there yet. The Supreme Court already rules on the constitutionality of laws (given, they cannot and do not rule on the constitutionality of every single law passed so in this sense I like the idea of the judicial committee). But it leaves more questions than answer – who will serve on the judicial committee? how are they to be appoitned? so many people believe the Supreme Court has failed to declare bills unconstitutional (or in certain cases deemed bills unconstitutional) due to their political philosophy and constitutional interpretation. Who gets to say what the ‘correct’ interpretation is and should be?

    And please take that pic of Palin down – Ray is likely to have a heart attack when he sees it! (I know I almost did)

    • asfs asdfnwe gre 890znsadf qhrn23 njk$2sn sdaf asdf23bn239 23 n923 nffffa snarffle hoogabo t3adsf PALIN!

      (We apologize for this message, but Mathius has suffered an aneurysm and is no longer capable of coherent speech)

    • Ray Hawkins says:

      @Buck – ditto on the judicial angle – hard to assume both bodies (SCOTUS and Committee) would see things the same way.

      As for Palin – well – USW did say it was a “fantasy candidate”. Maybe he just meant fantasy in more of a box of kleenex / hiding under the sheets from Mrs Weapon sorta way. Anyway – I though Palin’s head was bigger? Did someone photoshop it down? 😉

      • Ray Hawkins says:

        May also explain the injured wrist – sorry – you put your foot in mouth on that one. Hope you feel better. 😉

  4. USW, I am glad you qualified the Palin shot as a joke on Ray, lol. I am still pretty darn suspicious of her.

    Plainly, I did mean to work your first suggestion into this draft, but forgot to resubmit it to USW. I also think you other suggestion that you put on my site, about making sure bills were only single subject. If a bill cannot stand on its own, it should not be passed, no piggybacking. I like that suggestion a lot. I was not even aware that some states already had such a statute. Glad to hear that they do, that grants some precedent to such a proposal.

    Buck, I suppose I had not thought through who does the appointing of constitution committee members. Currently the Executive appoints SCOTUS members with legislature approval. I suppose a similar process could be taken, or we could SCOTUS itself appoint also with congressional approval, since, in a fashion, they would be appointing an assisting court. I do not think lifetime appointments would be good though, I would like to see a limit of some sort. I would also like to see some sort of constitutional background, not just a “good judge” as part of the requirements. I think the idea is still sound, but maybe we need to work through the selection process a bit. In either case, it will not be a foolproof method, just an extra filter on Congress, and a way to reduce teh workload on SCOTUS. Some of the unconstitutional stuff in play now I think just never made the SCOTUS radar because they have too much to handle. That may explain how some of this conglomerate of 10th amendment violating stuff got through in the first place.

    • Buck the Wala says:

      And therein lies the problem. While it may help to have the constitutionality of all bills called into question before being enacted, I’m not sure if it will change all that much, regardless of any term limits or who is appointing the members of the committee. Those more to the right are going to apply the same strict interpretation the right on the Court apply, and those on the left are going to apply the same broader interpretation the left on the Court apply. So how many should serve on the committee? Part of me would want to make it a 2/3 majority to pass, but that may prove to be a ridiculous requirement that causes more deadlock than anything else and we find ourselves in a situation where nothing can get done (realizing of course that some here on SUFA would applaud such a deadlock!)

      • I, for one, would not mind the deadlock. 🙂

        I do get that it may seem a redundant position, and as such might be considered unnecessary, however, my concern is that SCOTUS is not reviewing all laws. It seems that protest must be raised for a case to be presented. I am wanting to spread the workload and put in a requirement that ALL legislation pass a constitutional panel of some sort. I would imagine the committee would include more persons than the SCOTUS. I was thinking 13 or 15 judges if there was a simple majority requirement. I would be fine with fewer persons only if we had the 2/3 requirement.

        Am I wrong about the SCOTUS and current standards of checking on the constitutionality of law? I am under the impression they are not actively reviewing all legislation signed unless it is presented as a problem by someone.

        • Buck the Wala says:

          Nope, not wrong at all — SCOTUS does not check on the constitutionality of any law, unless someone brings a lawsuit, and then only if SCOTUS decides to hear the case.

          My main concern again though is, if we put forth this commission, and they deem a law constitutional based on a more expansive view of the constitution, will you then abide by that law and consider it constitutional? Or would you then lambast the commission full of ‘activist liberal judges who have no respect for the constitution’ and demand a new commission?

          I’m willing to bet the latter, in which case, what did we accomplish?

          • Buck

            Make the panel advisory. Equal Membership appointed by two major parties of the Senate and one or two seats allocated to remaining parties/independents.

            Each party can stack an equal number of “scholars” on the panel based on their “interpretation” philosophy. (I pick Natelson and Bork)

            But require unanimous decision by the panel.

            If they can not agree 100% then the law is deemed “advised as unconstitutional”.

            Congress can ignore the panels advice at their own political peril.

            The findings of the panel will be available to Congress and thus will become part of the debate of record on contentious bills.

            In reality I don’t think the panel necessary if we properly control the powers of Congress and the Administration.

            • Buck the Wala says:

              Try to require unanimous decision and next to nothing will be declared constitutional. Taking the next step and making it purely advisory serves to gut the panel even further.

              Now it is a panel that will automatically say everything is unconstitutional (due to requiring unanimous consent) AND the panel has absolutely no teeth. Congress can ignore the panel at its political peril? Please – what peril!? Doesn’t take a genius to cast aside the panel as ineffective and meaningless given these requirements.

              • Buck

                Are you saying you have no confidence in the ability of the American people to monitor and maintain their own freedom, liberty and justice?

              • Buck

                I changed my mind.

                I pick Natelson and Napolitano.

                If a law is clearly constitutional I doubt that true scholars would simply say otherwise for political reasons.

              • Buck the Wala says:

                Its not about true scholars simply saying otherwise for political reasons. Its about a real debate over constitutional interpretation which leads to very different determinations as to what laws are constitutional.

                Its not that I have no faith in the American people – but the American people are part of the debate over constitutional interpretation. If a law is deemed constitutional by this panel and many believe it really is unconstitutional (creating the supposed peril you speak of if Congress were to pass the law anyway), just as many people will also agree with the commission’s determination. So again, what political peril?

              • Buck

                More importantly………..then what is the point of the panel?

                I am not aware of many actual laws that have been ruled unconstitutional lately.

                It is usually a State law or a Federal Regulation or a Federal Agency’s implementation of some policy.

              • Buck the Wala says:

                My point exactly — I like the idea of the panel in theory but wonder how to make it effective and useful.

              • That makes MY point exactly. No laws have been declared unconstitutional in large part not due to interpretation, but to lack of scrutiny.

          • Keep in mind, even if they give a pass, and Congress then passes it and the President signs it, I can still file suit and present it to the SCOTUS based on unconstitutionality. They are not the final say, so I do not have to “abide” by their decision. This is just a filter to catch stuff before it hits the voting floor. My primary purpose is to catch the little stuff. The stuff that is not constitutional and is not the role of the federal government, but is not big enough to incite a lawsuit or make it on the Supreme Court’s radar. That, I think, is how a lot of stuff is in the federal legal system that should be state run only.

    • Jon,

      This should be interesting, watching you and Buck debate deciding how it will be determined what is constitutional. I think the living document argument is
      wrong, that like a contract, the terms are in writing so they cannot be altered by whim. And that is what the amendment process is for.

      • Buck the Wala says:

        I know you completely disagree with the living document argument, as do many others here. But let’s not cast it aside as saying that’s what the amendment process is for. They are two very very distinct issues, which we should probably get straight.

        1) Living Document = an approach to constitutional interpretation used to define terms and phrases where ambiguous (my favorite example: “cruel and unusual punishment” – what does this mean?) This is not about altering the document but about interpretating the document.

        2) Amendment = changing the actual text of the document itself.

        • I get that you are speaking of interpretation Buck, but interpreting is not the same as changing meaning based on current culture. It should be based on an interpretation of intent, which is not subject to change based on the “times”. It is subject to change based on a different understanding of the founders, either because of research of other writings, historical knowledge, or considering the age of some of the Justices, maybe a personal relationship. 🙂 JK

          The thing is, there must be interpretation of language that is not specific, but that does not mean that things should change a lot, certainly not with the basic winds of culture. Cruel and unusual punishment, for instance, might be subject to changes because of culture in the sense that we consider hanging cruel and use lethal injection instead, but not in the sense that we should say that a judge is being “unusual” if he gives a legal sentence, just because all the other judges have gone soft. Such a thing as that should be part of a change to the law concerning what penalty range can be attached to a crime. If we considered prison “cruel”, does that mean we have to release everyone? There is a limit to cultural effect on interpretation.

          A vague contract is still a contract, interpretation tends to involve going back to the initial writers of the contract. It does not change as time goes on to mean something different. I think that is the danger of “reinterpretation” of constitutional writing. On what basis is the interpretation changing? Is it really a better understanding of the intent of the founders, or is it just an interpretation that allows us to apply the constitution the way we want to?

          If it is the latter, then that is not interpretation, it is rewriting and manipulating the document, rather than genuinely attempting to follow its intent.

        • Buck,

          How can, “promote the general Welfare” be interpreted as
          “provide” welfare?

          Reducing healthcare cost might promote the general welfare, but how does that get turned around where they can require
          insurance? Mandate does not mean promote, now nor then.

          Now consider, each STATE might have the legal authority to take these actions, depending on how their constitutions are written, but the federal government does not, except by
          judicial activism. “A” is “A”, unless the SCOTUS overrules the alphabet. Congress has the authority to regulate meant
          “to make regular’, or the same, between the states. A pound of flour, an ounce of gold would be the same in each state. It did not mean they had the authority to make laws mandating behavior, such as thou shalt not drive faster than 55MPH.(anyone miss Carter)

          • Buck the Wala says:

            I agree – there is no general police power granted to the federal government to pass any and all laws to ‘promote the general welfare’. However, they can tax to promote the general welfare.

            • Where is their constitutional authority to spend that money “providing” welfare?

              Starting roads and a postal system, I can see. But they should have allowed or encouraged it to be taken over by the states or private companies, not set up subsidized monopolies protected from competition.

      • Also, keep in mind, while I relish a debate with Buck over the proper interpretation of the Constitution (bring it on if you have the time, Buck), that aspect is not really the point.

        We already have a problem with constitutional interpretation. The addition of a constitutional committee to the congressional process will not change that. There is no power bring granted to this committee other than to limit what can be voted on by Congress, thereby reducing the number of bills that get passed into law. If the committee says something is ok to vote on, that does NOT override in any way the SCOTUS, they are still the higher court.

        I suppose we could add an appeal ability to Congress, where if they really want a bill to reach a vote, and it fails the committee, it can be appealed to the SCOTUS for approval, and still reach a vote with their approval. Even so, however, it still could be presented again to the SCOTUS via lawsuit after passing to make sure that A) it has not been altered in a manner that makes it no longer pass Constitutional scrutiny and B) make certain that there has been no change in the opinion of the court based on evidence or arguments presented in the lawsuit.

        Still, keep in mind that this adds an extra layer of Constitutional scrutiny, it does not solve the issues relating to interpretation. So, would those who disagree with the courts decisions now be placated by the addition and agreement of a committee? No, of course not. The point of the panel is to limit Congress further, particularly to filter the junk laws that slide under the radar. Again, this is how much of the federal government got involved in things that should be left to the states. A law was passed and no one sued. There was no constitutional scrutiny at all. The panel would guarantee at least some level of scrutiny, since Congress itself obviously is not qualified to police themselves.

        • Buck the Wala says:

          I would love a debate on that, but a bit outside of the point to this specific issue…also no real time to get into things today.

  5. Ray Hawkins says:

    @Jon – would you equalize the duration of terms for all offices?

    • I might consider that, but I would still want to stagger it so that the whole congress or even whole government would not change at once. I would like want every 4 years to completely change the executive and legislative branches or all of the legislative offices at once, that seems dangerous to me. I might more likely do what PlainlySpoken said and limit congressional offices to 12 years, at least at first, in order to maintain term length as they currently are, allowing more House terms, and only two Senate terms, etc.

  6. Jon, et al.

    I don’t see anywhere in your list where you address preventing this type of action:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/10/08/america-needs-jobs-time-f_n_754859.html

    Excuse me while I go gargle to wash away the taste of bile.

    • Scary, huh?

      “Today’s WPA could do some of that — as well as turn abandoned neighborhoods into urban parks, clean up the Gulf region, care for senior citizens and young children, bury utility lines, kill kudzu and tutor students.”

      How about those already getting government checks, ie welfare, do these jobs now?

      • Kathy

        I literally had a sick feeling in my stomach when I read that. Not just because Ms. Huffington proposed it but because of all the supposed “intellectuals” who are supporting the concept.

        If this becomes the major debate and we see a large majority of Americans supporting these concepts then I think we will know it is time to move across the valley.

        I do not think it will be approved by Congress or the President however. I think they know fully what the economic outlook is. On the other hand, they may support this as an attempt to prevent riots and revolution if they feel a collapse is immanent. When it comes time to die we all fight hard against it. Govt is no different. It will do anything to make the people think they have it figured out, if everyone will just hold on a little longer.

        Sorry, this whole article got me feeling a little down. Need to go dig dirt or whack some weeds. Heh, heh, heh.

        Did you get to watch that kid from S.F. shut down the Braves yesterday? 14 K’s……wow.

        • No, I missed that, but a brother and nephew are BIG Braves. Thanks for the ammo!

          Beautiful day here in Wisconsin – heading out for a run to get away from the computer and all this craziness! I wouldn’t suggest digging dirt – you’ve just done that and looked how it turned out 😀

      • Levee’s & flood control. Nashville, Fargo, etc.. how many cities have had major flooding in the last few years? And it meets the shovel requirements!

    • Yea, nothing direct, tho the balanced budget amendment might go a long way to stemming it. I dont like the idea of a modern WPA, but if there is one, it should first be required of all welfare recipients like Kathy says, that should slow it down a bit. Even FDR thought that giving money away hurt people, and started workfare, which morphed into welfare. Even his socialist butt wasnt evil enough to do what we are doing to people now with welfare.

    • Ray Hawkins says:

      @JAC – pure insanity – how the hell does a WPA create longer term economic prosperity/growth/sustainability? I like Kathy’s idea – until welfare can be reformed – for those even marginally able – lets get some prosperity out of them.

  7. 1. Single issue bills – no tagging on like the recent attempts of the back door amnesty “Dream Act” on the defense funding bill.

    2. The process – no “deeming” allowed, ie health care, current budget (or rather lack thereof).

    3. None of this crap (not even sure I understand this, but the timing and the way it went through are very suspect – I believe BO is/has vetoed?)

    http://www.zerohedge.com/article/hr3808-equivalent-tarp-2-and-obamas-get-out-jail-gift-card-high-frequency-signing-scandal

    See commenters on how it was passed:

    “Votes:Apr 27, 2010: This bill passed in the House of Representatives by voice vote. A record of each representative’s position was not kept.Sep 27, 2010: This bill passed in the Senate by Unanimous Consent. A record of each senator’s position was not kept.”

    At first glance it appears all of the Senate unanimously approved. However, as another commenter points out:

    “All those present. As long as a quorum ensued, then the vote is legal.”

    4. Earmarks – preferrably eliminate them entirely, but at the very least, the name of the congress person should be listed next to the monies they are requesting.

  8. The kind of man who demands that government enforce his ideas is always the kind whose ideas are idiotic.

    – H.L. Mencken

  9. BTW, USW, I hope your hand/wrist feels better. I would be rather perturbed if I was made unable to type, especially since my livelihood depends on a combination of typing and lifting 200lb. speakers…

  10. 1) Term limits are an ill-advised band-aid. An admission that government is “bad” thus the people involved in it eventually become “bad” as well. You are denying the people the ability to vote for the candidate they want because you feel they are too stupid to stop voting for a “bad” candidate – why allow them the ability to vote at all? My preferred “solution” within this framework is to make all elected officials lifetime terms (no time/money spent on re-election campaigns and posturing) and subject to an immediate recall vote at any time once a set of conditions are met (whatever you define them to be).

    2) There will always be ways around this. Money and power create exceptions whether they are codified into the law or not. Plus, who is going to enforce it, and how?

    3) They aren’t convicted now, and if you attach more severe penalties I guarantee the two parties will work together even more to make sure that they protect each other from anything serious.

    4) The Constitution is essentially irrelevant to the modern US government anyway. Clauses have been interpreted so broadly that Congress can pass near any law it likes. The Supreme Court has already become entirely a political body making decisions for political reasons rather than legal once, and I do not see how an additional committee would do anything to change things.

    5) They will invent a new term/system to continue to manipulate the law and the public however they see fit, until the restraints you attempt to place on the government become as convoluted as the tax code and filled with as many loopholes.

    6) So do you propose raising $1+ trillion in taxes or cutting that much spending? The former will crush the economy and send millions into poverty, thus increasing the social spending, thus requiring increasing the taxes, over and over in a death spiral until the whole thing collapses spectacularly. The latter will lead to immediate violent riots in every major city across the nation as the people will not stand to have their own personal government cookies taken away. Pick your poison.

    7) How do you propose to make this happen? The executive branch already has nearly all of the government power in spite of all the checks and balances already built into the system – how would additional restraints change anything, long-term?

    • Good Plan! Oh, wait, you didn’t have one…

      Look, there are 4 options for us and this country.

      1) We continue on this path and everything collapses financially. The government goes broke and essentially collapses. Our best hope will be to ride it out, avoid or survive the ensuing violence and try to pick up the pieces. Our biggest risk, other than not surviving the ensuing violence, is that there will be some fascist coup and we end up with a production friendly, nationalistic, warpath society like Germany before WWII. Likelihood of this scenario: high. Odds of picking up the pieces successfully and not having a violent government coup: low.

      2) We run, leave the country and try to find somewhere else or create somewhere else to go. This would mean either we jump from the frying pan to the fire, or we disperse to places that are not messed with much and have little pockets all over the world and live a mediocre existence. Either that or we find a Midas Mulligan type character and build or buy our own country someplace. Then it doesn’t matter what happens here. Chances are, a lot of right thinking people would be left behind, unless we really had retarded levels of financing. Odds for this scenario being successful: Almost as good as winning the lottery 5 times.

      3) Revolution/civil war. We take the fight to them and kick them out before things get too bad. This is the least preferred option because of the violence, and we will lose a lot in the struggle, but it is not as low on the odds of success as many think because a lot more people are pissed off than most of you think. Still, there is risk that what we end up with at the end is not even as good as what the country started with. Odds of this scenario: Medium to high. Odds of success, at least for a section of the country to end up ok: Medium.

      4) Change the system from inside. Not just working within the system but changing it as we go. This would be the ideal option, the least violent and the only one without significant loss of life and suffering. It also requires decades of perseverance. Odds of short term successes like what I am proposing, low to medium. Odds of completely fixing everything over the next couple generation, worse than option 3.

      Still, I am willing to give #4 a shot. I am not, with these steps I propose, trying to fix everything at once. My fantasy candidate is one operating in our existing government, pushing things that will at least embarrass and show the true colors of the rest of the people in Washington even if the proposals do not pass Congress. It is not my fantasy candidate in my fantasy government.

      1) Term limits are an ill-advised band-aid. An admission that government is “bad” thus the people involved in it eventually become “bad” as well. You are denying the people the ability to vote for the candidate they want because you feel they are too stupid to stop voting for a “bad” candidate – why allow them the ability to vote at all? My preferred “solution” within this framework is to make all elected officials lifetime terms (no time/money spent on re-election campaigns and posturing) and subject to an immediate recall vote at any time once a set of conditions are met (whatever you define them to be).

      Firstly, I have no problem “admitting” what you are saying. Power corrupts, and Washington is no exception. Cut the time they have to become corrupted. We already have term limits for President, do you want those repealed because it “removes free choice”? Lifetime elections with removal threats are no better solution than what we have now, and are even more subject to changes in the “requirements” to do an election recall.

      2) There will always be ways around this. Money and power create exceptions whether they are codified into the law or not. Plus, who is going to enforce it, and how?

      Perhaps, but they will not have government funded perks, they will have to fund them other ways. Not the worst punishment, I know, but its something.

      3) They aren’t convicted now, and if you attach more severe penalties I guarantee the two parties will work together even more to make sure that they protect each other from anything serious.

      This is where the media comes in. Only so much can be hidden. We have a police force, do we not? They may still be able to get away with crime and not go to prison, but they will be removed from office. If an election recall for a crime is impossible, so is your proposal in your first point.

      4) The Constitution is essentially irrelevant to the modern US government anyway. Clauses have been interpreted so broadly that Congress can pass near any law it likes. The Supreme Court has already become entirely a political body making decisions for political reasons rather than legal once, and I do not see how an additional committee would do anything to change things.

      The Supreme Court does not even look at laws unless a suit is filed. I am talking about a look at every law. Even if all it does is slow things down its worth it. And if we got a couple years of decent scholars on the panel, it could be one hell of a reprieve.

      5) They will invent a new term/system to continue to manipulate the law and the public however they see fit, until the restraints you attempt to place on the government become as convoluted as the tax code and filled with as many loopholes.

      Money is money. Again, this just slows things down, but it also is the first step towards calling every bit of government income a tax, so that people can begin to see through the smoke and mirrors. Also, again, this is not a fix, it is a step towards a fix.

      6) So do you propose raising $1+ trillion in taxes or cutting that much spending? The former will crush the economy and send millions into poverty, thus increasing the social spending, thus requiring increasing the taxes, over and over in a death spiral until the whole thing collapses spectacularly. The latter will lead to immediate violent riots in every major city across the nation as the people will not stand to have their own personal government cookies taken away. Pick your poison.

      Cutting that much in spending. We can allow it to happen over time, do an increase freeze and let GDP catch up or something, but there would have to be a tax freeze as well. Tho if I had to “pick my poison” between your two scenarios, I pick option two. Still, it makes them do the hard stuff, cut things for real. It might take a while to go active, but people know it needs doing. The only people who support debt spending are academic eggheads who have no concept of economics.

      7) How do you propose to make this happen? The executive branch already has nearly all of the government power in spite of all the checks and balances already built into the system – how would additional restraints change anything, long-term?

      Remove it. De-fund every executive order if necessary. Congress can become a check and balance to the Executive branch again, they just need guts. That is what all of this is about. My “fantasy candidate” is to propose these things. Even just the public proposal of these bills and amendments exposes the underbelly of the corruption. If all we managed to do in the short term was take the pretty mask off and rip down the fancy facade, it would still be well worth the effort. Even if all it did was help the revolution scenario instead of the change within the system scenario it would be worth it.

      • Haha good. The idea needs to survive some criticism to become stronger, nothing personal, there just wasn’t really much actual discussion going on. 😉

        1) If power corrupts, why not remove the power instead (sure, how)? If you have a really awesome congressman who isn’t corrupt why should he get kicked out for some blanket rule because of someone else’s bad deeds? Why not also apply this to the Supreme Court? As for recalls, they aren’t actually always legal now (depends on the state) but I would let each state come up with their own method for deciding to recall their congressmen.

        2) We kind of lost the grasp on Congressional perks when they started voting themselves pay raises and taking jobs and perks from lobbyists after leaving office. How about an amendment pinning Congressional salary to the median of private salaries (good luck pushing it through anyway)? I know that having a high congressional salary is supposed to be a deterrent for seeking bribes and such but it hasn’t seemed to be that effective, no? Lobbyist problem is trickier since just about every company in the country lobbies in some form or another now – but if a congressman is limited to a small number of years he’s going to be more interested in trying to secure his post-congressional job through these means. The exception thing is kind of small potatoes – they can just exempt all government employees, or government employees making over a certain amount, or whatever, anyway – but it does make for a good campaign bullet point as it’s easy to communicate to the people and is a good populist measure.

        3) Media is already in the pocket of government. Police (and more importantly, the prosecution) is run by the government and will do what they say. Plus, if the people don’t care that their congressman got caught smoking pot once or something similarly inane, then why should they be removed from office? Let the people decide who and when they want to kick out of office. If you don’t trust the people to decide then you just end up with the elites picking the preferred candidates because the people don’t know better (oops, already happens in this two-party system – where’s that in your bullet points? 😉 ).

        4) I’m saying the Supreme Court has essentially made the Constitution irrelevant. Adding another committee that will also be filled with political lackeys (how do you propose to put “scholars” on it?) won’t have any different result but probably even more of a rubber stamp, leaving the Supreme Court with even less legal standing to overturn a law that another committee already ruled was constitutional. If elected officials can’t be trusted to craft constitutional laws then how would a committee that is either elected officials themselves or appointed by elected officials be any different (are you thinking something like the CBO?)? I’m not sure how you would go about putting the cows back in the barn on this one but I would start by making everything Congress passes expire every 4-5 years unless actively renewed or codified into a constitutional amendment. Make the congressmen actively take responsibility for existing problems rather than shrugging their shoulders at it. And while you’re at it to help with clarity make it so that everything congress passes has to be single-issue.

        5) Taxes are mandatory, fees are part of a voluntary service, and congress already can’t get the definitions right. I’m just not sure what this part is actually supposed to accomplish since congress has no problem twisting itself around the process already in place anyway. Why not go a bit further and have every revenue-raising item require a 2/3 vote or a referendum or something like that?

        6) Politically “easiest” ways to cut spending: a) Drastically reduce the defense budget by cutting nearly all overseas operations and reducing the size of the standing army, allowing the Guard to pick up the slack (as they’ve been doing all decade anyway); b) “small” defaults on big programs by raising the retirement age on Social Security/Medicare and indexing it to average life span (by groups if necessary), phasing the changes in over several years; c) freezing everything else and hoping for the best. Also what would stop congress from adding a $1 trillion item to the budget called “freshly printed money” under revenue and “balancing” the budget with that? In the end though even a “balanced” budget doesn’t do anything to prevent gigantic taxes and spending coming together, just limits the ability of the government to finance via printing money and inflation – which also means the current debt already built up becomes more of a burden. How about in addition to that, a hard cap on spending as a % of GDP?

        7) In this particular case waving the magic wand and saying “I won’t let this happen” isn’t enough, since it already has happened under the current system. How would you change the *system* to make sure not only reverse the current state but make sure it doesn’t continue in the future? Elected officials will always love being able to pass the accountability on to unelected, faceless government agencies. Going back to my earlier point, if you at least make everything congress passes (like the establishment of said agencies) up for renewal every few years, you at least make them implicitly responsible for what those agencies do and explicitly able to “disband” those agencies without having to pass a new law that would be subject to executive veto. But you would still have to find a way to change the core philosophy of the whole system which is to make every aspect of government power as permanent and impersonal as possible.

        • True, I was looking for more discussion, thanks for initiating a good conversation!

          1) If power corrupts, why not remove the power instead (sure, how)? If you have a really awesome congressman who isn’t corrupt why should he get kicked out for some blanket rule because of someone else’s bad deeds? Why not also apply this to the Supreme Court? As for recalls, they aren’t actually always legal now (depends on the state) but I would let each state come up with their own method for deciding to recall their congressmen.

          I would not mind reducing or removing power, but we are talking about an interim step, not the final solution. Removing power anytime soon would involve the civil war option. I could see leaving recall authority to the states, that is not a bad idea. As for the removal of choice, however, you did not answer my question. Do you propose recalling the restriction on Presidential election? The other reason I would like to see a limit on time in office is the fact that congressmen are not supposed to be government people, none of the elected officials are. They are supposed to be representatives of us. If you are in Washington too long, you lose track of your state’s people. I think term limits will help make our elected officials into representatives again, rather than political experts.

          2) We kind of lost the grasp on Congressional perks when they started voting themselves pay raises and taking jobs and perks from lobbyists after leaving office. How about an amendment pinning Congressional salary to the median of private salaries (good luck pushing it through anyway)? I know that having a high congressional salary is supposed to be a deterrent for seeking bribes and such but it hasn’t seemed to be that effective, no? Lobbyist problem is trickier since just about every company in the country lobbies in some form or another now – but if a congressman is limited to a small number of years he’s going to be more interested in trying to secure his post-congressional job through these means. The exception thing is kind of small potatoes – they can just exempt all government employees, or government employees making over a certain amount, or whatever, anyway – but it does make for a good campaign bullet point as it’s easy to communicate to the people and is a good populist measure.

          Granted the high salary has not prevented bribes, but I don’t know if pinning it to medial salaries is a good idea. How about the states decide what their congressman makes. That should motivate the congressman to at least stay in touch. As for the lobbyist issues, we need to enforce conflict of interest laws on congresspersons. As far as exemptions, the whole point is that they would not be able to exempt themselves for any reason. They might be able to bribe someone out of having it enforced, but that is where the state recall comes in, and the fact that it would be one more major violation they can get dinged for.

          3) Media is already in the pocket of government. Police (and more importantly, the prosecution) is run by the government and will do what they say. Plus, if the people don’t care that their congressman got caught smoking pot once or something similarly inane, then why should they be removed from office? Let the people decide who and when they want to kick out of office. If you don’t trust the people to decide then you just end up with the elites picking the preferred candidates because the people don’t know better (oops, already happens in this two-party system – where’s that in your bullet points? 😉 ).

          This site is Media, so is my site. There are other bits of media out there not owned by the government, and that is expanding. Main stream Media is not all thats out there anymore. I could see leaving it up to the people about state law violations, but if Congresspeople violate federal law, they should get kicked out. Why? Because if they cannot abide by the laws that they make, then they should not be making them. Now, if you wanted to give them the ability to try to repeal a law they violated, maybe they could be granted pardon for sich an act, but I would have to think about that.

          4) I’m saying the Supreme Court has essentially made the Constitution irrelevant. Adding another committee that will also be filled with political lackeys (how do you propose to put “scholars” on it?) won’t have any different result but probably even more of a rubber stamp, leaving the Supreme Court with even less legal standing to overturn a law that another committee already ruled was constitutional. If elected officials can’t be trusted to craft constitutional laws then how would a committee that is either elected officials themselves or appointed by elected officials be any different (are you thinking something like the CBO?)? I’m not sure how you would go about putting the cows back in the barn on this one but I would start by making everything Congress passes expire every 4-5 years unless actively renewed or codified into a constitutional amendment. Make the congressmen actively take responsibility for existing problems rather than shrugging their shoulders at it. And while you’re at it to help with clarity make it so that everything congress passes has to be single-issue.

          Once again, the committee is not above the Supreme Court. And the Supreme Court does not look at the constitutionality of laws. It only looks IF someone brings a suit, and not even every time that happens. So the committee is to make sure that at least everything has a once over.

          Now, the idea of making EVERY law sunset I absolutely love. I have proposed such a thing in the past. It would force every law to be repassed, it would keep congress busy, it would simplify the legal code, it would do a great many things. It would have to be in conjunction with another great idea that I touch on in this series at some point, or maybe in comments, that of the single issue requirement. That keeps them from rubber stamping a whole pack of stuff at once.

          5) Taxes are mandatory, fees are part of a voluntary service, and congress already can’t get the definitions right. I’m just not sure what this part is actually supposed to accomplish since congress has no problem twisting itself around the process already in place anyway. Why not go a bit further and have every revenue-raising item require a 2/3 vote or a referendum or something like that?

          It is meant to accomplish two small things. Force a spade to be called a spade, and enforce an order of operations to things so that increases in taxes are more difficult. I would be fine with going further, if that was part of step one or if it was step two, I would love that.

          6) Politically “easiest” ways to cut spending: a) Drastically reduce the defense budget by cutting nearly all overseas operations and reducing the size of the standing army, allowing the Guard to pick up the slack (as they’ve been doing all decade anyway); b) “small” defaults on big programs by raising the retirement age on Social Security/Medicare and indexing it to average life span (by groups if necessary), phasing the changes in over several years; c) freezing everything else and hoping for the best. Also what would stop congress from adding a $1 trillion item to the budget called “freshly printed money” under revenue and “balancing” the budget with that? In the end though even a “balanced” budget doesn’t do anything to prevent gigantic taxes and spending coming together, just limits the ability of the government to finance via printing money and inflation – which also means the current debt already built up becomes more of a burden. How about in addition to that, a hard cap on spending as a % of GDP?

          Not having an issue with your easy methods. I also have no problem with rolling certain things back onto the states that should have been there to start with. The legal side would have to be given to the states at the same time, so that they could choose not to fund it, but get them off of the federal teat and make them pay for their own benefits and we will see another huge drop in federal spending. A hard cap on spending as a percentage of gdp might be good. A hard cap on income taxes was proposed in the first income tax law. It was blocked because the cap seemed too high, and some were afraid the cap would be used as an excuse to tax more faster. I think we discovered that reaction was an error, the original proposed cap was 10%.

          7) In this particular case waving the magic wand and saying “I won’t let this happen” isn’t enough, since it already has happened under the current system. How would you change the *system* to make sure not only reverse the current state but make sure it doesn’t continue in the future? Elected officials will always love being able to pass the accountability on to unelected, faceless government agencies. Going back to my earlier point, if you at least make everything congress passes (like the establishment of said agencies) up for renewal every few years, you at least make them implicitly responsible for what those agencies do and explicitly able to “disband” those agencies without having to pass a new law that would be subject to executive veto. But you would still have to find a way to change the core philosophy of the whole system which is to make every aspect of government power as permanent and impersonal as possible.

          Changing the core will require changing the people (back to term limits?) Still, forcing agencies to be in an advisory role only and all statutes and regulations must actually be put through congress, one issue at a time, rather than added to the legal code by the agency itself will certainly slow things down. And its not always going to be a rubber stamp. Even if all the people in congress are evil, evil still fights among itself.

  11. My fantasy candidate.

    Reason #1, she doesn’t want the job.
    Reason #2, I think her values are similar to mine.
    Reason #3, Checking to see if the boss reads, racism is not addressed unless you
    post a pic of Spongebob. Loved the Palin photoshop.

    http://www.hoover.org/fellows/10078

  12. Mathius, Buck

    Eat your hearts out. I am so famous I am now getting personal emails from the Vice Pres, the Pres. Wife and now the Pres. Here is the one Mr. Obama sent me today.

    Friend —

    I come into this election with clear eyes.

    I am proud of all we have achieved together, but I am mindful of all that remains to be done.

    I know some out there are frustrated by the pace of our progress. I want you to know I’m frustrated, too.

    But with so much riding on the outcome of this election, I need everyone to get in this game.

    Neither one of us is here because we thought it would be easy. Making change is hard. It’s what we’ve said from the beginning. And we’ve got the lumps to show for it.

    The fight this fall is as critical as any this movement has taken on together. And if we are serious about change, we need to fight as hard as we ever have.

    The very special interests who have stood in the way of change at every turn want to put their conservative allies in control of Congress. And they’re doing it with the help of billionaires and corporate special interests underwriting shadowy campaign ads.

    If they succeed, they will not stop at making our work more difficult — they will do their best to undo what you and I fought so hard to achieve.

    There is no better time for you to start fighting back — a fellow grassroots supporter has promised to match, dollar for dollar, whatever you can chip in today.

    Please donate $3 or more — and see who wants you to re-commit to this movement.

    I know that sometimes it feels like we’ve come a long way from the hope and excitement of the inauguration, with its “Hope” posters and historic crowds on the National Mall.

    I will never forget it. But it was never why we picked up this fight.

    I didn’t run for president because I wanted to do what would make me popular. And you didn’t help elect me so I could read the polls and calculate how to keep myself in office.

    You and I are in this because we believe in a simple idea — that each and every one of us, working together, has the power to move this country forward. We believed that this was the moment to solve the challenges that the country had ignored for far too long.

    That change happens only from the bottom up. That change happens only because of you.

    So I need you to fight for it over the next 26 days. I need your time. I need your commitment. And I need your help to get your friends and neighbors involved.

    If you bring in a new donor today, your $3 donation will become $6. And our Vote 2010 campaign will have twice the resources to make important investments like putting staff on the ground, providing materials for volunteers, and turning out millions of voters come Election Day.

    Please donate $3 or more today — and renew your commitment:

    http://my.democrats.org/OctoberMatch

    If we meet this test — if you, like me, believe that change is not a spectator sport — we will not just win this election. In the years that come, we can realize the change we are seeking — and reclaim the American dream for this generation.

    Thank you for being a part of it,

    President Barack Obama

    OK boys, I did not make this up. It is a real email as are the two I mentioned.

    Do either of you have a million or so I could send to them?

    I want to see their “secret” donor crap his/her britches when the Pres asks them to cough up the matching funds.

  13. Sent: Friday, 08 October 2010 17:19 Hal Lewis

    From: Hal Lewis, University of California, Santa Barbara
    To: Curtis G. Callan, Jr., Princeton University, President of the American Physical Society

    6 October 2010

    Dear Curt:

    When I first joined the American Physical Society sixty-seven years ago it was much smaller, much gentler, and as yet uncorrupted by the money flood (a threat against which Dwight Eisenhower warned a half-century ago).

    Indeed, the choice of physics as a profession was then a guarantor of a life of poverty and abstinence—it was World War II that changed all that. The prospect of worldly gain drove few physicists. As recently as thirty-five years ago, when I chaired the first APS study of a contentious social/scientific issue, The Reactor Safety Study, though there were zealots aplenty on the outside there was no hint of inordinate pressure on us as physicists. We were therefore able to produce what I believe was and is an honest appraisal of the situation at that time. We were further enabled by the presence of an oversight committee consisting of Pief Panofsky, Vicki Weisskopf, and Hans Bethe, all towering physicists beyond reproach. I was proud of what we did in a charged atmosphere. In the end the oversight committee, in its report to the APS President, noted the complete independence in which we did the job, and predicted that the report would be attacked from both sides. What greater tribute could there be?

    How different it is now. The giants no longer walk the earth, and the money flood has become the raison d’être of much physics research, the vital sustenance of much more, and it provides the support for untold numbers of professional jobs. For reasons that will soon become clear my former pride at being an APS Fellow all these years has been turned into shame, and I am forced, with no pleasure at all, to offer you my resignation from the Society.

    It is of course, the global warming scam, with the (literally) trillions of dollars driving it, that has corrupted so many scientists, and has carried APS before it like a rogue wave. It is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist. Anyone who has the faintest doubt that this is so should force himself to read the ClimateGate documents, which lay it bare. (Montford’s book organizes the facts very well.) I don’t believe that any real physicist, nay scientist, can read that stuff without revulsion. I would almost make that revulsion a definition of the word scientist.

    So what has the APS, as an organization, done in the face of this challenge? It has accepted the corruption as the norm, and gone along with it. For example:

    1. About a year ago a few of us sent an e-mail on the subject to a fraction of the membership. APS ignored the issues, but the then President immediately launched a hostile investigation of where we got the e-mail addresses. In its better days, APS used to encourage discussion of important issues, and indeed the Constitution cites that as its principal purpose. No more. Everything that has been done in the last year has been designed to silence debate

    2. The appallingly tendentious APS statement on Climate Change was apparently written in a hurry by a few people over lunch, and is certainly not representative of the talents of APS members as I have long known them. So a few of us petitioned the Council to reconsider it. One of the outstanding marks of (in)distinction in the Statement was the poison word incontrovertible, which describes few items in physics, certainly not this one. In response APS appointed a secret committee that never met, never troubled to speak to any skeptics, yet endorsed the Statement in its entirety. (They did admit that the tone was a bit strong, but amazingly kept the poison word incontrovertible to describe the evidence, a position supported by no one.) In the end, the Council kept the original statement, word for word, but approved a far longer “explanatory” screed, admitting that there were uncertainties, but brushing them aside to give blanket approval to the original. The original Statement, which still stands as the APS position, also contains what I consider pompous and asinine advice to all world governments, as if the APS were master of the universe. It is not, and I am embarrassed that our leaders seem to think it is. This is not fun and games, these are serious matters involving vast fractions of our national substance, and the reputation of the Society as a scientific society is at stake.

    3. In the interim the ClimateGate scandal broke into the news, and the machinations of the principal alarmists were revealed to the world. It was a fraud on a scale I have never seen, and I lack the words to describe its enormity. Effect on the APS position: none. None at all. This is not science; other forces are at work.

    4. So a few of us tried to bring science into the act (that is, after all, the alleged and historic purpose of APS), and collected the necessary 200+ signatures to bring to the Council a proposal for a Topical Group on Climate Science, thinking that open discussion of the scientific issues, in the best tradition of physics, would be beneficial to all, and also a contribution to the nation. I might note that it was not easy to collect the signatures, since you denied us the use of the APS membership list. We conformed in every way with the requirements of the APS Constitution, and described in great detail what we had in mind—simply to bring the subject into the open.

    5. To our amazement, Constitution be damned, you declined to accept our petition, but instead used your own control of the mailing list to run a poll on the members’ interest in a TG on Climate and the Environment. You did ask the members if they would sign a petition to form a TG on your yet-to-be-defined subject, but provided no petition, and got lots of affirmative responses. (If you had asked about sex you would have gotten more expressions of interest.) There was of course no such petition or proposal, and you have now dropped the Environment part, so the whole matter is moot. (Any lawyer will tell you that you cannot collect signatures on a vague petition, and then fill in whatever you like.) The entire purpose of this exercise was to avoid your constitutional responsibility to take our petition to the Council.

    6. As of now you have formed still another secret and stacked committee to organize your own TG, simply ignoring our lawful petition.

    APS management has gamed the problem from the beginning, to suppress serious conversation about the merits of the climate change claims. Do you wonder that I have lost confidence in the organization?

    I do feel the need to add one note, and this is conjecture, since it is always risky to discuss other people’s motives. This scheming at APS HQ is so bizarre that there cannot be a simple explanation for it. Some have held that the physicists of today are not as smart as they used to be, but I don’t think that is an issue. I think it is the money, exactly what Eisenhower warned about a half-century ago. There are indeed trillions of dollars involved, to say nothing of the fame and glory (and frequent trips to exotic islands) that go with being a member of the club. Your own Physics Department (of which you are chairman) would lose millions a year if the global warming bubble burst. When Penn State absolved Mike Mann of wrongdoing, and the University of East Anglia did the same for Phil Jones, they cannot have been unaware of the financial penalty for doing otherwise. As the old saying goes, you don’t have to be a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing. Since I am no philosopher, I’m not going to explore at just which point enlightened self-interest crosses the line into corruption, but a careful reading of the ClimateGate releases makes it clear that this is not an academic question.

    I want no part of it, so please accept my resignation. APS no longer represents me, but I hope we are still friends.

    Hal

    ==========================================================

    Harold Lewis is Emeritus Professor of Physics, University of California, Santa Barbara, former Chairman; Former member Defense Science Board, chmn of Technology panel; Chairman DSB study on Nuclear Winter; Former member Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards; Former member, President’s Nuclear Safety Oversight Committee; Chairman APS study on Nuclear Reactor Safety Chairman Risk Assessment Review Group; Co-founder and former Chairman of JASON; Former member USAF Scientific Advisory Board; Served in US Navy in WW II; books: Technological Risk (about, surprise, technological risk) and Why Flip a Coin (about decision making)

  14. “a man’s admiration for absolute government is proportionate to the contempt he feels for those around him”. Tocqueville

  15. Black Flag,

    I offer 10 BF points for the answer/guess to these seemingly simple questions.

    So the end of the fiat dollar has happened. How many silver dollars will it take to buy a gallon of gas? A gallon of milk? A loaf of bread? Would it be a question of it depends who you’re buying from? Or do you think there would be an actual set price? I’m talking silver here. But would it be different if I asked the same questions but using gold as payment?

    How much time between a collapse and transition to another form of currency? Or would gold/silver stay the currency? Is there even an answer to these questions?

    Curious investors would like to know. I’ll be out for the day. Check back tonight. Thanks BF

    • On second thought I’ll take advantage of some beautiful weather and I’ll be back tomorrow 😉

    • Anita

      I offer 10 BF points for the answer/guess to these seemingly simple questions.

      So the end of the fiat dollar has happened. How many silver dollars will it take to buy a gallon of gas?

      No answer can exist until go you go to a store and try to buy gas (or whatever goods).

      Value is subjective and changes per person all the time.

      Today an egg -to you- is about 10c.

      Tomorrow, you starving, will auction off your empty-gas-tank car for an egg.

      All I can say is this:
      People will value a silver coin before they value a worthless piece of paper. You will get something – how much of what? Sorry, I don’t know.

      But would it be different if I asked the same questions but using gold as payment?

      Nope.

      The benefit of silver is that it is a smaller denomination. Paying for bread with a coin of gold will probably cost you the whole coin – how do you make change out of a gold coin?

      Paying for bread with a silver coin will probably cost you the whole coin. But, that will be a far better deal then the gold coin deal.

      The benefit of gold however is portability. You have to carry about 75 times more weight of silver for the same value in gold.

      If you need to move – fast – gold is what you want in your pocket, not silver.

      So some of both is probably the best answer in times of extreme crisis.

      How much time between a collapse and transition to another form of currency?

      No nation can survive long without a currency – it took Zimbabwe 12 months to abandon theirs and assume the Rand (S. Africa) and Dollar (US). Weimer Republic of Germany (1920) took only 6 months before they created a new one.

      …but you need to eat every day. If you starve in those 6 months….

      Or would gold/silver stay the currency?

      As long as government controls currency, gold and silver will never become a currency.

      They cannot be easily manipulated by government for the designs the government wants to place upon your life.

      Another fiat will appear – it will, for the short term, be respected by the government – no fiddling. As soon as people begin to believe for a long time, the fiddling will happen again.

      In this matter, the People are stupid sheep – always have been, always will be.

      • BF when buying gold coins just as a hedge what % above the stated value of gold is acceptable?

        • Is it better to buy 1 oz coins or fractional coins? & why? 🙂

          • One more thing, hope I’m not being too much trouble here 🙂 I was told it was better to buy foreign coins because Americans coins came with a higher markup-true or not-if true-Why?

          • V.H.

            20% of net worth should be ample.

            I would stick with American, Canadian or S. African simply because they are well known. Others are esoteric and will confuse your buyers as to “what are they, really?”.

            Shop around.

            Also, that markup is passed along too – there is a premium for coin over bar because it is a coin. It can by assayed much easier and is visibly verifiable – unlike a bar. This benefit has value thus the cost is higher.

            But whether by bar or in coin –take delivery.

            You are doing this for a crisis. Having someone else hold your stake in a crisis becomes theirs in their crisis! They will not let go of that life line, even if you own it (but they have it).

            • Anita

              20% of net worth should be ample

              I just want to qualify this a bit.

              More is ok too – but do not forget the other important things you need to have to manage a crisis, like at least 1 years worth of food storage, emergency kits, tools, etc.

              In the worse times, no one will sell food for anything, so you better have some yourself.

              You may be trapped where you are, and you will need to maintain and repair things for your survival.

              You may need to evacuate in short order – like 5 hours – what will you take?

              Put effort here too. Don’t hold a million in gold and starve when no one sells food.

              • Thanks a million BF! I’m pretty much on track with all your advice. I just haven’t dove into silver yet but it will happen this week. Yes you are correct that silver is much bulkier to deal with. the place I’ve been dealing with sells silver in bags– 50lb bags – or silver eagles for a minimum purchase of 10 oz. Glad I got some gold when I did! Cha Ching! Thanks again 🙂

          • V.H.

            I would generally suggest 50%- 1 oz., 25% 1/4 oz, 25% 1/10 oz of gold.

            OR 75% Gold, 25% silver.

            Simply having some smaller transactions maybe helpful.

            • Thank you!

              • I was too busy to do anything more than say thank you before. But I think you misunderstood my first question-my fault-but what I was asking is what % above the spot price of gold should I be willing to pay to purchase the gold-not what % of my net worth I should purchase. Although it was a question I should of asked. 🙂

              • V.H.

                Try these guys.
                http://www.caminocompany.com/howtobuysell.htm

                They have the lowest I know of … remember the mints charge a premium to them too – it will end up to be about 10% over spot or so.

                But the important thing is, unless you are going to melt them down, is that premium carries forward when you sell too.

              • Thanks BF-talked to one place and by the end of the conversation the mark up was around 25 to 30 %.

                The double speak was so bad it was hard to tell what the % actually was. Finally asked him-if I was selling the same coins to you today what would you pay me for them. Little more double speak, finally an answer. Almost 30 % difference and that was with them supposedly giving us a 10% bonus in free gold. I either totally misunderstood, which I don’t believe I did or Goldline is indeed a bad company.

              • V.H.

                Oh, stay away from them!

                The prey on the ignorance of the average American regarding gold.

              • I’ve used Kitco recently for the convenience. Good with smaller orders and payment/delivery options.

                You might be able to find better deals locally, especially for larger orders.

              • Thanks Guys 🙂

  16. We have a choice to make once and for all: between the empire and the spiritual and physical salvation of our people.

    No road for the people will ever be open unless the government completely gives up control over us or any aspect of our lives.

    It has led the country into an abyss and it does not know the way out.

    ~ Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, as quoted by Pravda (1986)

  17. The ideas that you write about are things that I have been screaming about for many, many years . . . All of my shouts fell on deaf ears. I sure hope you have better success than I.

  18. MSU defeats Michigan @ The Big House !! 🙂 Bring it on Illini!

    Good Luck to Wisconsin with Ohio State next week

    So Sorry USW!

    • maybe this kid would qualify as a candidate:

      GOOD QUESTION

      A young Arab asks his father:

      What is this weird hat that we are wearing ?

      It’s a “chechia” because in the desert it protects our heads from the sun !.
      And what is this type of clothing that we are wearing ?

      It’s a “djbellah” because in the desert it is very hot and it protects your body .

      And what are these ugly shoes that we have on our feet ?

      These are “babouches”, which keep us from burning our feet when in the desert .

      Tell me, papa…

      Yes, my son ?

      Why are we living in Detroit and still wearing all this shit ?

      Peace!

      • 🙂 What’s up G? Told my son about the origins of saggin. He was not amused! You may have singlehandedly broken his habit. Haven’t seen a sag since! I gave credit to you before I told the story 🙂

        • Ditto here! Son thought I was totally making it up and so I said we’d drive up to the nearest prison and ask if we could take a tour and he could sag his way around and see what kind of response he got. He wasn’t interested and I haven’t seen his butt/boxers since.

    • GO BUCKS! About the only team in Ohio that’s consistent, although Wisconsin always plays us tough.

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