Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Silencing the Megaphones

While we are taught in government skool that our country is a representative democracy, where the people elect the person best suited to represent their interests, in reality, this isn't what the founding fathers had originally intended. Sure there was to be a group that represented the people in Congress, but that was only half of the original equation. The Senate was originally chosen by state legislatures as a means of keeping what James Madison referred to as the tyranny of the majority from overtaking the government.

That all changed with the passage of the 17th amendment to the United States Constitution. It made the Senate directly accountable to the people. It was passed during the so-called Progressive Era (1900-1920) of the United States which also included amendments to create the income tax, ban alcohol, and give women the right to vote. Out of those four amendments, I can think of 3 that were bad for the United States (one of them was overturned in a subsequent amendment anyway). It could be argued that all four were bad for the United States, but taking away the vote from women is probably up in the air. I could probably spend a whole blog entry writing on it, so I won't delve too deeply into it.

In any event, placing the will of the people in the Senate was probably a very bad idea in retrospect. Now we have two houses of Congress who are focused on looking good in front of people rather than doing their job. I've mentioned before a story about a Congressman getting in front of the cameras and beaming over some pointless deal that no one cares about. Well, that's what happened in the Senate. I very much doubt that the New Deal would ever have occurred in the first place had the Senate been chosen by the states rather than the people. It would have been interesting to see what would have happened had California and all the other states in between would have handled the dust bowl situation in Oklahoma. And many of the industrialized states would have prevented the farming states from being subsidized by the government in the first place.

In any case, these days the Senate is probably the biggest whore in the world. I mean every word of that last sentence I've written. With six year terms, no term limits, and accountability to a massive number of people in your state, it's very easy to create for yourself a great deal of power. The easiest way is to promise your own constituents more money from the Federal treasury (also known as their money confiscated and given back to them along with money from other states). As a result of this, special interest groups have infiltrated the Capitol and bride Congressmen into whatever their agenda is. After all, what are campaign contributions anyway? If a special interest for the sugar industry pays Congress, in the form of soft money donations, to impose tariffs on foreign sugar, how is that not a bribe?

So really it comes down to whoever has the biggest megaphone and the most cash is the power in the United States. The masses of people are dumb, by and large, and will accept any form of slavery, be it welfare, Social Security, or Universal Health care, all because human beings by nature are lazy and selfish. This isn't a cynical viewpoint, it's perfectly true and realistic. And politicians know this simple fact and know how to exploit it. This is the true essence of tyranny of the majority and why we are in the mess we are in now.

The best way to silence these megaphones, though, will require a few things. For one thing, it will require a repeal of the 17th Amendment to the United States Constitution. This one is pretty obvious, given what I've explained above.

Another thing that it requires will be to pass a law that makes all civil lawsuits into a loser pays system, where the loser will pay for the winners court costs, lost revenue from labor absence, and the legal fees. That way, we won't have these megaphone bullies running around strong arming their minority viewpoints onto the government and corporations and damaging the economy while at the same time claiming their own moral superiority.

Lastly, we'll need to pass campaign finance reform where politicians can collect as much as they want from whoever they want, provided to give full disclosure of where the funds come from and where they end up. That way, we will see how truly honest these people really are.

The idea of having Congress in two houses with one picked by the people and one picked by the states was to prevent both kinds of tyrannies. Right now, we are beholden to the will of the people, but like I said, the "people" are the ones who sole job is to get into other people's business and mess up the lives of ordinary citizens. At this point in United States history, you can't just vote and assume that you've done enough. Voting is the bare minimum if you are ever going to get your agenda rolling. Believe me, politicians only do the things you like right up until the election and then return to business as usual. This isn't rocket science, it is simple reasoning based on human nature.

So please, understand that unless you have big ass megaphone in DC just outside the Capitol, there's no point in voting because it doesn't matter a whole lot. Regardless of who you pick, you're for the same unless you change the system.