CUSDI

Congress has created a Plutocracy of rich persons and corporations: The People must restore our Democratic Republic.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ) or Questions and Answers (Q&A), are listed questions and answers, all supposed to be commonly asked in some context, and pertaining to a particular topic. The format is commonly used on … online forums, where certain common questions tend to recur.…The term became more frequently used to refer to the list, and a text consisting of questions and their answers is often called a FAQ regardless of whether the questions are actually frequently asked, if they are asked at all,” (Courtesy © Wikipedia)

FAQ are especially important in this website’s context because of the range and complexity of the topics under consideration. They elaborate on problem, solution, and campaign issues and are frequently referenced from other sections in the website.

Citizens

Examples of Problems Unresolved by Congress but Potentially Solvable by the People

Defining any problem that a Solution might resolve carries the risk of simultaneously creating some antagonists about the problem’s wording or meaning. The more problems raised, the more antagonists. Moreover, the authors of this list are nowhere near the problem-solving quality of the best nationwide expert teams. However, we must risk antagonism to illustrate some of what this website’s Solution can achieve.

Automation, Work, and Inequality


We have used automation since the first water wheels in the 3rd century BC.  The industrial revolution was from about 1760 to 1840. Replacement of human labor with automation has continued to expanded since then. Often, but not always, good jobs requiring higher mental skills were available to employ those replaced by automation. But today's new highly intelligent machines and robots are beginning to eliminate many high mental skills jobs too.

From a Corporate perspective, automation and robots have huge benefits; they work 24×7 (four times more than a human); never complain or strike; involve no hourly labor costs, only initial investment plus maintenance; rarely make an error. For example, intelligent automation is coming to road vehicles making many professional drivers redundant. Similar human replacements are expected in many other occupations. The resulting extra corporate income does not have to be shared with union workers.

As things are, many more humans will soon have no jobs, no income, no money, no hope. Many corporations will make excellent profits; Plutocrats will temporarily prosper. But who will buy all their products? Many recent books analyze and warn about the central issues of income inequality, social and economic instability. Piketty summarizes the problem graphically – the peaks anticipating both U.S. crashes in 1929 and 2008.

Our Plutocratic Congress, focused on short-term issues and re-election, cannot solve these long-term problems. Moreover, Plutocratic greed is a participating trigger in this chaos. The People are the losers. There is no constitutional mechanism to find or enact a solution. The best minds in the nation could probably find solutions that retain the productivity and rewards of Capitalism and concurrently a meaningful life for the People. We will need a political mechanism to find and implement effective and efficient solutions.

National Debt 


The National debt of the United States is the amount owed by our federal government and ultimately by the People. When Congress cannot balance Plutocracy’s desired spending budget (e.g., for oil subsidies, unnecessary wars, contamination cleanup, tax breaks for the rich, etc.), it simply borrows more by a vote to raise the debt ceiling. That’s Plutocracy! Consequently, the U.S. is one of the most debt-ridden counties in the world.

The interest is paid from federal taxes. The Fed has held the interest rate below one percent for the last eight year, but is starting to increase it. Our Plutocratic Congress is holding tax rates on the Plutocracy (corporations and the very wealthy) at historic low levels.

The People are more aware than Congress about the effects of excessive debt, are far more concerned than Congress about burdening their children with debt, and are far more likely to limit the National Debt than our Plutocratic Congress. Nevertheless, the People will be hit the hardest, though they had no say in the matter. The People have an absolute right to influence these debt obligation decisions.

Term Limits


In the early years of the Congress, there was frequent turnover, perhaps due in part to long travel times. Today, virtually all elected representatives dislike any limits to their own term, feeling that their years of experience are valuable and that enforced retirement from office is a waste.

The People generally like term limits, perhaps believing the it is much harder for Plutocracy to corrupt a moving target. The People enforced term limits in 21 States, of which 6 managed to nullify the limits leaving 15 States with term limits today.

In the 1990’s 22 States set term limits for their congressional representatives. However, in 1995, the Supreme Court’s five-to-four decision (Term Limits v. Thornton) determined that states do not have the authority to limit the terms of their Congresspersons. However, Congress condones term limits for others; the 22nd Amendment sets a two-term limit for the of U.S. President. The People have a right to set term limits for Congress.

Climate Change


Some facts are indisputable. We know that temperatures and sea levels have both been much higher and lower in the past. We know the earth is heated by the sun’s radiation and cooled by radiation leaving the earth. Since 1928 we have been able to measure how carbon dioxide, methane, etc. (gases that contain carbon) reduce cooling, thereby increasing atmospheric energy (e.g., wind speed, temperature, water content, storm size). We know that the average worldwide temperature has risen about 1.6°F in the last 75 years. It is easy to measure the average sea level, so we know that the sea has risen about 8 inches in the last 100 years. We know that Greenland’s glaciers and the northern ice are melting by just looking at the photos; when it all melts, which results from a warming of about 3.6 to 5.4 °F according to the experts, a simple calculation shows that the sea around the world will be 24 feet higher.

Predicting the rate of future heating, speed of glacial flow, and their cumulative effects are more difficult involving complex calculations. So, there is some uncertainty as to when climate change will reach the tipping point where the earth’s weather becomes permanently hot and the coastal cities are underwater. But once we reach the tipping point there is no going back.

The big question then is how much should we spend on "insurance" today to control warming versus gambling on the speed of damage to ourselves, our children, and their children?

Technology to reduce carbon emissions is becoming increasingly effective and affordable, and has become competitive with fossil fuel. Plutocrats; oil, gas, and coal tycoons; and the wealthy (which includes most of Congress) profit from exploiting the resources now and delay acting to limit warming. Later, they can easily afford a move to cooler and higher places: they cannot be trusted to make final decisions on these issues for all the People.

Congressional Club


Members of Congress enjoy an extraordinary degree of constitutional authority and freedom that allows them to do exactly what they wish. The Constitution’s Framers realized that they could not anticipate and include all that Congress would need to do, so they added article 1, section 8, clause 18 (the “Necessary and Proper Clause” or “Basket Clause”) that allows Congress to: “make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.”

This has allowed Congress to operate to the personal benefit and aggrandizement of its members. For example, Congress sets its own compensation and perquisites, lobbying revolving-door policy, ethics, personal use of donations, etc. There are no checks and balances on congressional behavior possible within our Constitutional framework – e.g., the Senate must approve selection of all Supreme Court Judges.  The only remaining possibility available is for the People to assume that responsibility and authority as and when necessary.

Retirement Benefits and Age


"When the Social Security [Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance] program was initiated in 1935, the average life expectancy was 61 years old. Considering that the average age for retirement has remained consistently around 65, beneficiaries in the early years of the program were receiving payment for a much shorter time. Currently, average life expectancy has increased to 75 and the average retirement age has remained at 65. So, not only are there more beneficiaries as compared to workers, but these beneficiaries are receiving payments for a much longer period." (Stanford University) Total annual Social Security benefits paid have increased from $1,27 million in 1935 to $897 billion 2015. (Wikipedia) These number do not include Medicare or Medicaid.

Obviously, something should be done before too much of our entire economy becomes care for increasingly healthy and vigorous retirees. For example, plans allowing people to continue in less demanding and lower paid work (e.g., looking after those older than themselves; using the problem to solve the problem; giving people dignity and usefulness) while keeping eligibility for their retirement benefits appear worth considering. Fear of an aging community voting backlash at the next election freezes Congress repeatedly into permanent inaction. The People are more aware than Congress about the effects of excessive debt, are more concerned than Congress about burdening their children, and are far more likely to limit the National debt than an irresponsible Congress.

Capital Punishment


Fifty-six countries retain capital punishment, 103 countries have completely abolished it. The U.S. is one of the few advanced countries to retain it Federally and in 31 States. The process for administering the punishment is occasionally brutal – many Citizens terminate their animals' lives with greater compassion. Also, the finality of death leaves no remedy if innocence is determined later. On the other hand, vengeance is a valid human emotional expectation, and some Citizens would prefer death over life in prison. There currently appear to be under 40 executions per year. It also appears that the cost of getting, imprisoning, and administering a death penalty is greater than life in prison.

Thus, it appears that there are no clear decision-making criteria other than personal preference to reserve extreme punishment for some classes of crime. Congress is wary about taking up the issue.

Corporate Personhood (Citizens United v. FEC)


In the Citizens United decision on 21 January 2010, the Supreme Court narrowly (5-4) decided to extend Corporation Personhood to include freedom of speech, prohibiting the government from restricting independent political expenditures by a nonprofit corporation. The principles articulated by the Supreme Court in the case have also been extended to for-profit corporationslabor unions and other associations.

As of early 2017 (7 years after Citizens United) hundreds of Citizen organizations have consolidated their opposition into the “Move to Amend” coalition. Their website indicates 24 Congressional co-sponsors have agreed to support their Constitutional Amendment. Citizen action to amend the Constitution is a slow process.; Plutocratic benefits are immediate and long lasting.

Constitutional Amendments Enacted by the Supreme Court


The Supreme Court makes some judgements that carry the full weight, force, and impact of an important Constitutional Amendment. This perverts our constitutional rights and can result in much unnecessary suffering by the People. A primary contributing factor is Congress’s unwillingness to propose Constitutional Amendments, preferring instead shift responsibility to the unelected Supreme Court, constrained by historical legal precedents but not by the electorate's preferences. Moreover, it makes the nomination of a Supreme Court Justice by the President with the Advice and Consent of the Senate an event of colossal importance to the Plutocracy with powerful influence or control of the President and Senate.

Declaration of War Authority


For the United States, Article One, Section Eight of the Constitution says “Congress shall have power to … declare War”. However, that passage provides no specific format the legislation must take to be considered a “declaration of war” nor does the Constitution itself use this term.

The War Powers Resolution of 1973 is a federal law intended to check the president’s power to commit the United States to an armed conflict without the consent of the U.S. Congress. The Resolution was adopted in the form of a United States Congress joint resolution. It provides that the U.S. President can send U.S. Armed Forces into action abroad only by declaration of war by Congress, “statutory authorization,” or in case of “a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.”

However, Presidents have assumed responsibility to start a war, e.g. the Gulf of Tonkin incident that kicked off the Vietnam war. Moreover, the President is the Commander-in-Chief and has the sole authority to release nuclear weapons.

It seems that there should be more clarity about such monumental issues. Co-equal checks and balances warrant elevation of the legal decision-making process above branches of Government to the Constitution.

Electoral College


The founding fathers established the Electoral College in the Constitution as a compromise between election of the President by a vote in Congress and election of the President by a popular vote of qualified citizens. In the intervening 230 or so years, the electorate has been expanded to include almost all U.S. Citizens of age. The Electoral College has become an anachronism; its original purpose has disappeared. However, it still has a sentimental attachment to history, serves the party-political elite, and may help somewhat with fund-raising. On the other hand, it is indisputably anti-democratic, it causes much dissatisfaction with the electoral process, it can call into disrepute the validity of the electoral results, and Congress must like it or they would propose a repeal amendment to the States. The People should prevail over Congress.

Gerrymandering


Though congressional redistricting is the responsibility of the States, special interests promoting a specific party or party have a major influence on the process.

In 36 states, redistricting is the responsibility of the state legislature; in seven states (AZ, HI, ID, NJ, WA, and WV), redistricting is done by independent means; and seven states (AL, DE, MT, ND, SD, VT and WY) have only a single district (Wikipedia).

Gerrymandering has the effect of redrawing voting boundaries so that members of the first group make their votes more effective than the votes of a second group. It wastes the second group votes artificially—thereby voiding their vote and their Article 1 Section 2 right of choice. As of 2012, the disenfranchisement due to partisan-controlled redistricting was a total of 4.4 million voters from both parties. (Princeton Election Consortium, Sam Wang)

Gerrymander works by packing opponents’ votes into redrawn districts where the opponents will already win, and by distributing the remainder into redrawn districts where opponents become a minority. It particularly favors incumbent congresspersons because they generally influence the drawing of the voting boundaries—and the effects are far from trivial. For example, if two parties have an equal number of votes, it is possible to gerrymander so that one party gets almost two times as many seats as the other. Sophisticated computer mapping systems, which require substantial financial support, design gerrymandering today. Consequently, special interest money is again crucial. Voters should choose which political party should be in power; instead, congresspersons, special interests and political parties choose their voters to assure their power.

In the House of Representatives, about 190 seats are safe for each party, leaving only 55 seats (i.e., 13 percent) where the outcome is open.

Removing Limits on Plutocratic Contributions (McCutcheon v. FEC)


In McCutcheon on 2 April 2014, the Supreme Court narrowly (5-4) decided to remove a limit on contributions an individual can make over a two-year period to national party and federal candidate committees. It vastly increases the already huge amount of money available to influence congresspersons and create dark (untraceable) money to support Plutocratic causes.

Supreme Court Justice Recall


Presidents can be impeached, members of congress expelled or impeached, but a Justice of SCOTUS may remain until death or retirement. The Constitution intends that the other two branches of government, POTUS and COTUS, should not have the power to influence the Justices, no matter how harmful to the People, senile, incompetent, even bedridden they may become. The People on the other hand, are the sole beneficiaries of the Constitution. They have, and should have, the right to recall a Supreme Court Justice.

Instant-runoff Voting


Instant-runoff voting (IRV) is also known as the alternative vote (AV), preferential voting, or transferable vote. It is a voting method used in single-seat elections when there are more than two candidates. IRV has the effect of avoiding split votes when multiple candidates earn support from like-minded voters. In other words, it has the important benefit of encouraging a more diverse group of candidates without risking the election of a candidate supported by a minority of voters. It is used in national elections in several countries, and in several U.S. States and Cities. Congress is unlikely to adopt this as the Parties may lose some control of the electoral system.

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Initiatives Amendment Executive Summary

(Download PDF)

Our Congress has abused the People’s trust by creating systemic Congressional corruption, dysfunction, and inefficiency. Moreover, it has usurped our Democratic Republic by transformation into a Plutocratic Republic controlled by the very wealthy individuals; executives, directors, and major stockholders of domestic and international corporations; aided by 12,000 lobbyists who include over 350 retired congresspersons. Congress permits massively merged Plutocratic media corporations that propagandize their issues, facilitate divide and rule strategies. Hundreds of books, studies, and articles leave no doubt about the reality and severity of these Problems. However, Congress cannot and will not produce an effective Solution because Plutocracy bestows Congresspersons with far greater personal benefits than the People can provide. Consequently, Congress strongly accommodates Plutocracy’s wishes and does not consider the People’s wishes. Our government of the people has become by the Plutocracy, for the Plutocracy. (more…)

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The following table shows the principal Pro Con features of the Initiatives Amendment:

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Federal Election Costs

Presidential federal election costs are spread amongst federal, state, county and local authorities. The most credible estimate of their total comes from a Voting Technology Project by Caltech and MIT dated July 2001. They estimate that the total cost of a federal election, excluding special one-time costs, is about $1 billion, or about $10 per voter. For this reason, it is not cost effective to have annual votes on Initiatives, but to make them coincide with the federal elections.

Cost of Publishing a Proposed Initiative in a Newspaper

National newspapers’ list prices range from about $4 to $8 per character. The Assembly will negotiate a bulk price for newspaper publication, which will probably average in the mid-range at about $6 per character. A Proposed Initiative of 300 words would cost about $10,000. However, this price is affordable to organizations, many individual citizens, and a group of citizens that could easily be assembled for a worthwhile Initiative. It is also sufficient to discourage frivolous Initiatives and to encourage brevity in worthwhile Initiatives. It appears to be the most cost effective method of publication. The Assembly has the authority to add a smaller (probably not national) newspaper with lower costs if this becomes desirable later; initially the Assembly should protect itself from a possible deluge of proposed Initiatives. (more…)

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The competence of the average U.S. voter receives it greatest test when twelve of them are randomly selected as jurypersons to decide the truth in matters ranging up to death sentences and billion dollar legal awards. This is our guarantee of justice under the constitution. It works surprisingly well, and when it occasionally goes wrong it is more the result of being given incorrect information than that the jury is not competent — it is seldom that a judge overrules a jury verdict. There is no good reason why we should not extend the democratic principle behind jury service to a much larger IQA that statistically is far more likely to make valid decisions.

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Yes, to a degree mandatory IQA duty is onerous. But the general benefit far outweighs the individual inconvenience.

It is important that the IQA is a good cross-section of the People so that everyone’s views are included. When a Citizen is randomly selected to serve as a Member of the IQA, that Member represents about 406,000 Citizens who have similar views. If that Member refuses to serve, a replacement will represent a different 406,000 views; the views of the original 406,000 Citizens will not be represented.

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Public Polls and Surveys on Nationwide Initiatives

Polling data on this issue is sparse. However, the limited public opinion data shows strong support for the use of nationwide initiatives. Averaging the four polls, Citizens are 63.5% in favor and 21.3% against Initiatives.

    1. In a 1987 Gallup opinion poll (Craig, p271), the following question was asked of U.S. citizens: “Should we trust our elected officials to make public decisions on all issues, or should the voters have a direct say on some issues.” The responses were 76% in favor vs. 18% opposed, and 6% unsure.
    2. The Washington Post (Merida) reported a 1994 poll showing 64% of those interviewed favored a national referendum.

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    Assessing the Risk of Tyranny

    Risk of tyranny caused by ratifying this Amendment is compared with the current risk. It focuses only on the relative degrees of tyranny and avoids digression into the voluminous and contentious philosophical issues of tyranny in general. The practical objective is to determine if this Amendment will make tyranny more or less likely.

    Risk of tyranny caused by ratifying this Amendment is compared with the current risk. The practical objective is to determine if this Amendment will make tyranny more or less likely.

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    Voter demographics are of great importance to the success of this Constitutional Amendment. The following table shows the demographics for the 1998 election: (more…)

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    In the immediate future, you could:

    • Build momentum by downloading the summary as a PDF or copy and paste text. Email copies to friends, associates, and interested parties. Also, post summary and comments to your social media.
    • Each section enables you to reply, comment, and blog – to control your own future actively rather than concede to Plutocracy. Your point of view helps.
    • Please donate if you can–we are frugal but much work is required.
    • We need pro bono  constitutional law and video creation help.

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    A Brief Citizens’ Guide to Successful Lobbying

    The key to successful efforts to lobby and persuade a state legislature to support the Initiatives Amendment is to find several legislators who will become committed advocates. Finding these advocates is largely a process of luck and of trial and error. The Citizen who decides to take on the job needs to find legislators who are predisposed to listen and support the Plan.

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    Project Smart Vote

    Project Smart Vote Links to State and Federal Elected Representatives and candidates. It is a very reputable nonprofit citizen’s organization dedicated to serving all Americans with accurate and unbiased information for electoral decision-making. It gathers and maintains data on over 42,000 candidates. You can quickly find your specific candidates and elected representatives by automatic lookup using your nine-digit (ZIP+4) mail code—or using your street address if you do not know your ZIP+4 mail code:
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    Congress

    House & Senate Races: Incumbents, Challengers, Open Seats.

    In November of 1998, 401 of the 435 sitting members of the U.S. House of Representatives sought reelection. Of those 401, all but six were reelected. In other words, incumbents seeking reelection to the House had a better than 98% success rate. U.S. Senators seeking reelection were only slightly less fortunate–slightly less than 90% of the Senate incumbents who sought reelection in 1996 held on to their seats.

    What is it about sitting members of Congress that makes them so hard to beat? Are incumbents just better candidates (on average) or is the deck somehow stacked against challengers?

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    Its all relative, but in #### we were the greatest nation; in 2015 we are ranked ###

    Dick Morris and Aileen McGann, in their 2007 book “Outrage“, estimate that the total wastage cost is at least 369 billion dollars per year and climbing. This is consistent with the grand total of earlier estimates by the authors, most of which are discussed above.

    America has repeatedly been said to have the best political system in the world despite its imperfections—an ideal that congresspersons and wealthy special interest groups reiterate in the hope that the People will ignore current Problems. Since independence, America has outperformed all others for two centuries. During this period, some politically instigated waste has been inevitable. Nevertheless, it has never been great enough to undermine America’s success.

    However, convergence of unprecedented special interest influence and the astonishingly persuasive power of today’s media technology have created a government by and for the special interests rather than by and for the People. Never before in U.S. history have the consequences for our nation been so great and so damaging. Our nation’s and our children’s futures are bleak if we take no action.

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    Congressional planning is primarily concerned with short-term issues, often synchronized with political re-election cycles. However, we live in a time when massive changes are occurring over one or more decades. Such issues are often global and difficult to solve politically, though they will have profound affects for all Americans whose much-loved decedents may live perhaps 30 to 60 years into the future. (more…)

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    There is a limit on the number and complexity of Direct Initiatives that can be assimilated by the nationwide electorate during a federal election. About 12 Direct Initiatives and 12 Indirect Initiatives every two years is almost certainly sustainable without overloading the electorate and the IQA. Experience will adjust these numbers.

    By comparison, the average number of bills passed by the 106th Congress (1999-2000) was 1,500 per two-years – roughly 100 times the number if Initiatives. (more…)

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    Our nation can no longer afford the luxury of ignoring these huge Problems. Though we expect our elected representatives to heed our concerns, they cannot for the following reasons: (more…)

    Leave a response to Why Does Congress Find these Problems Intractable?

    Most of Members of Congress sought election because they are dedicated to making a difference and improving the lives of U.S. citizens. Once in Congress, the system itself promotes corruption if any legislative progress is to be made. Nevertheless, some congresspersons will see this constitutional Amendment as a necessary and useful tool rather than any significant diminution or threat to their power.
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    Many comments received so far about this Solution say:

    1. Yes, it is a good idea.
    2. Yes, we need it.
    3. But many Citizens fear that “THEY” or the “powers that be” will prevent and never allow this Amendment to pass.

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    A referendum is generally prepared by Government and submitted to the People for their approval. In some U.S. states and cities, a “referendum petition” can be used by the People to overturn legislation. Referendums are widely used around the world to legitimize actions that Governments want to take. Often the right to initiate referendums is presumed to be a proper power of Government without explicit authority granting the government that right. For example, the U.S. Constitution is silent on the matter. The U.S. government has never tested whether or not the Supreme Court would determine that it has the right to hold referendums. Following The Netherlands’ 2005 referendum rejecting the EU Charter, there remain only four major established democracies that have never held a national referendum: India, Israel, Japan, and the United States.

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    Congresspersons could be recalled only by their electorate. This would occur as a local action and is beyond the scope of a nationwide Initiative and this Planned Amendment.

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    International corporate interests help harm our middle class and send it  into decline. Export of jobs to increase executive pay and boost corporate profit—2.7 million manufacturing jobs lost from 2000 through 2003—will continue if unresolved. Many major U.S. corporations have now become multi-national, so they look for the lowest costs and the nationality of their employees does not affect them significantly. Their special interest groups and lobbyists have a multi-national rather than U.S. agenda. (more…)

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    Congress hides huge unfunded government overspending in financial obligations unilaterally imposed on the States, Cities and in debts upon our children. For example:

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    Our representatives oppose (act against) the Peoples’ interests on vital long-term social, ethical and legal issues. For example:

    1. Massive media mergers have allowed special interest groups increasingly to filter and manipulate news information—and thereby their excessive influence over our government. This is part of a trend to ignore monopoly laws. For most of the last century, these laws were the People’s assurance that our capitalist system would remain competitive and efficient.
    2. Cheaper medical drugs are available in other countries at international pharmaceutical prices but not in the U.S. Moreover, congressional legislation prevents the federal government from negotiating the prices of drugs supplied through Medicare. In both cases, the congressional legislation ignores American free-market anti-monopoly ideals.
    3. Congress is unwilling to propose a constitutional Amendment setting congressional term limits that would prevent their own almost-permanent reelection. In January 1997, a proposed Constitutional Amendment set House and Senate limits of 12 years each, for a combined total of 24 years in Congress. However, it failed to get the necessary support to pass. Public opinion is strongly in favor of congressional term limits.
      • Many States have term limits for their State legislators. Twenty-two States set term limits for their congressional representatives. However, in 1995, the Supreme Court’s five-to-four decision (S. Term Limits v. Thornton) determined that states do not have the authority to limit the terms of their Congresspersons.
      • In the absence of an Amendment, Congresspersons could volunarily limit their terms. Less than two dozen congresspersons chose to be self-limiters. The National Taxpayers Union Foundation (NTUF) found that self-limiters proposed budget cuts of about $15 billion a On the other hand, non-self-limiters with the same seniority proposed average increases over $15 billion. Furthermore, the eleven longest-serving congresspersons proposed increases of nearly $60 billion a year. Though these data are not statistically conclusive, they are indicative.
    4. Under the influence of special interest and political obligations, the Congress has come to focus excessively on short-term issues, expediency and party politics. As a consequence, Congress inadequately addresses its long-term leadership responsibility to ensure that government comply with the Constitution.
    5. As the top legislative branch of Government in the nation, Congress sets a moral and ethical example for the nation. Congressional failures are publicized and apparent to every person and organization in the U.S. By their tolerance of excessive influence in high places, Congress encourages a decline in moral and ethical standards cascading throughout government, business and the nation. There is no way to evaluate the financial and moral costs of this decline, but many Citizens believe them to be pervasive and appalling.
    6. Increasingly, the companies that employ us are the same specials interests that control us through their surrogates—our elected representatives. The level playing fields needed for an effective capitalist system yield to competition by paid political influence. We know that some of this is inevitable, that it has always happened, that it is part of our human nature, but today it is far worse and growing. Without adequate adjustment to our system of checks and balances, special interests’ control of government steadily transforms the U.S. into a surrogate plutocracy and, if their power consolidates over time, perhaps a form of totalitarianism

    Leave a response to Does Congress Oppose the People Socially, Ethically, and Legally?

    Congresspersons go to great lengths to be re-elected. Their cumulative efforts over time result in de facto control of the election process to the degree that our vote is no longer for a meaningful choice and most votes are wasted because they cannot affect any outcome. Congress has the power to remedy these problems, but it takes no effective action.      (more…)

    Leave a response to How Does Congress Deny Peoples’ Choice of Representation?

    Special interests make massive contributions to buy media to help ensure election of their Candidates. Special interests finance Washington lobbyists to represent them to Government. Though special interests have always influenced our government (as is their right under Amendment I) only in recent times have they been able to use such powerful and expensive media. To encourage a spiral of increasing lobbying, Congresspersons are taking the political maxim “reward your friends and punish your enemies” to new extremes.    (more…)

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    Constitutional

    The Founding Father’s contemporaneous writings and words shed much light on what they intended the Constitution to accomplish, how it might go wrong, and how it was to be corrected, as shown in some examples below:

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    Note to the reader: Even though ratification of this Amendment by referendum may be possible, it would throw another risk into the ratification process, and the path is unlikely to be followed. Rather State Referendum and Initiatives may be used to prod ratification support in State Legislatures.

    Ratification of an Amendment to the U.S. Constitution by State Referenda

    (This review argues in favor of the case that state referenda can ratify a U.S. Constitutional Amendment.)

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    The following table shows the six key documents (with links) presented in this website: (more…)

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    The following flowchart shows an overview of the advance of the Amendment from first steps to ratification. (more…)

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    The Constitution does not explicitly forbid or allow direct democracy; the issue is unresolved. Specifically, Article IV, section 4 of the U.S. Constitution (the Guarantee Clause) states that: “The United States shall guarantee to every state in this union a republican form of government, and shall protect each of them against invasion; and on application of the legislature, or of the executive (when the legislature cannot be convened) against domestic violence.”

    Note that this Solution shall check and remedy representative democracy, not supersede it.

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    The People control the IQA as shown in the flow of control below:
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    Ownership and Authority of the Constitution is Defined in the Preamble

    We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.     (more…)

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    The Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution in 1787, a hundred years before the discovery of Aristotle’s key texts describing the ancient Athenian experiences with democracy. Texts that they had quoted Greeks who were critical of democracy—especially Socrates who advocated a republic led by philosophers. Despite 140 years of direct democracy in New England town meetings starting as early as the 1640’s, there was no evidence that these small democracies could be scaled up for nationwide benefit. To the Founding Fathers, it seemed necessary that in a democracy all voters should assemble at a single location. The methodology of a statistical random sample of the People for polling or to select candidate initiatives developed over the period 1850-1930. Consequently, based on the available information, the Founding Fathers omitted any reference to democracy from the Constitution, but they did not explicitly forbid it.

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    Amendment I grants the right to petition the Government for a redress of grievances: “Congress shall make no law … abridging … the right of the people … to petition the Government for a redress of grievances”. However, the Supreme Court has explained: “nothing in the First Amendment or in this Court’s case law interpreting it suggests that the rights to … petition require government policymakers to listen or respond to individuals’ communications on public issues.” Moreover, though a signature “petition” may be used to qualify an Initiative, the word “petition” is used as a noun, whereas it has a different meaning as a verb in to “petition” for redress of grievances. Moreover, the People’s right to pass Initiatives into law is a very different issue. In other words, Amendment I says nothing about the People’s right to use Initiatives. (more…)

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    Differences Between Senator Gravel’s National Initiative for Democracy and This Plan’s Citizens’ Initiatives Amendment

    The conceptual similarities of NCID (was NI4D) and CUSDI’s InitiativesAmendment are: (more…)

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    Quotations

    • John Adams, 1776
      “[A legislature]…should be an exact portrait, in miniature, of the people at large, as it should feel, reason and act like them”

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    Initiatives

    Initiatives and Referendums in Ancient Times

    Direct democracy voting for initiatives and referendums by the citizens on important issues started around two thousand five hundred years ago In Athens, the cradle of democracy. About 590 B.C. power was granted to all the propertied classes, thus establishing a limited democracy. About 500 B.C., democracy was extended to the freemen of Athens (women and slaves who made up more than half of the population, and others were excluded). At that time, the city of Athens’ population was approximately 100,000 (Polopolus) with possibly 250,000 including surrounding areas. Of these, about 100,000 were citizens and about 30,000 were males entitled to vote. The voters were called the Ecclesia or Ekklesia—i.e., the Electorate. A quorum of the Ecclesia consisted of 6,000 citizens. (more…)

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    In political science, the initiative (also known as popular or citizen’s initiative) provides a means by which… voters can force a public vote on a proposed statute, constitutional amendment, charter amendment or ordinance. It is a form of direct democracy.  (more…)

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    National newspapers’ list prices range from about $4 to $8 per character. The Assembly will negotiate a bulk price for newspaper publication, which will probably average in the mid-range at about $6 per character. A Proposed Initiative of 300 words would cost about $10,000. However, this price is affordable to organizations, many individual citizens, and a group of citizens that could easily be assembled for a worthwhile Initiative. It is also sufficient to discourage frivolous Initiatives and to encourage brevity in worthwhile Initiatives. It appears to be the most cost effective method of publication. The Assembly has the authority to add a smaller (probably not national) newspaper with lower costs if this becomes desirable later; initially the Assembly should protect itself from a possible deluge of proposed Initiatives. (more…)

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    Large U.S. Cities with Initiatives:

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    Best Case Scenario

    In the best case, the States will perceive that the planned Amendment is to the benefit of both the People and the States, and will adopt and later ratify the Amendment. The costs in this case would probably be just a few million dollars.

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    Crowd-sourcing has been around since human groups gathered around a fire and discussed problems collectively. The advent of the Internet made it unnecessary for everyone to be present at the same place. It is not clear how far crowd-sourcing will develop, but its progress is rapid and it is producing results. The word “crowdsourcing” was defined by Merriam-Webster in 2006’ “Crowd-sourcing is the process of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people, and especially from an online community …a general search for answers, solutions….” (Courtesy © Wikipedia)

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    U.S. Citizens often speak of their Constitution as an experiment in democracy. Nevertheless, since it has proven itself for over 200 years, this Plan should not expose the People to unnecessary risk. As the future is unpredictable, it is always wise to avoid any undue risks by providing safeguards. The famous dictum “Above all, do no harm” is entirely appropriate. Consequently, this Plan incorporates many safeguards whose purpose is to anticipate and avoid problems, and, if they occur, to have an easy solution. They will have a significant effect on the Plan’s success. (more…)

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    The Constitution’s system of checks and balances requires that legislation enacted by both Houses of Congress be approved or vetoed by the President. The equivalent check and balance for Direct Initiative legislation is that two time-separated Assemblies (with many different Members) propose the Initiative and then the People approve or reject it. In both cases these are multi-step independent approvals that minimize error.

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    IQA

    IQA Operating Design Features: (more…)

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    The initial IQA will be chosen as a simple random sample from all U.S. Citizens who are entitled to vote. This method does not involve any subjective decisions by sampling experts and is the most inclusive. It is the truest cross-section of the People and therefore the appropriate place to start. However, it will be an imposition on some of those selected; if this creates persistent serious problems, the IQA may be obliged to find ways to ameliorate the situation.

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    All national assemblies deliberate to some degree and they each therefore can be called a deliberative assembly. What is special here is that randomly selected voters are generally not familiar with the process and need well-defined procedures to come up-to-speed quickly. These procedures will evolve with experience. In a nutshell, the starting procedure used in this plan is:
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    The IQA is similar in various ways to several existing forms of organization that can serve as a reference point, but non describe it precisely:

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    The key problem in setting the size of the planned IQA is to make it large enough to represent accurately the views of all the People, yet be small enough to be manageable. It is a problem confronting all national assemblies. Their practical experience is of paramount importance as they have evolved over centuries to these sizes after much trial and error.

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    It can be argued (Callenbach and Phillips) that a Candidate Initiative adopted by a deliberative Assembly could become law directly, without going to vote by nationwide Electorate. Some advantages are:

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    Someone entering the Initiatives Qualifying Assembly or a Typical Citizens Assembly would notice little difference — the assemblies would look and sound very similar. Below the surface, however, there are many profound differences of responsibility, function, authority, and purpose as shown in the following table. (more…)

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    There are good reasons to believe that the IQA can be wise consistently.

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    The key function of the IQA is to select and develop Initiatives on which the People would desire to vote if they had a comprehensive opportunity to think about the issues. There are two defensible ways to define who the “People” are for this purpose: (more…)

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    States with Initiatives Project Cost Estimates

    This table shows the estimated funding that could be needed for contingency initiative projects in States that have the initiative process but whose legislatures are reluctant to endorse the Amendment. (more…)

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    States

    USE OF INITIATIVE TO CALL FOR FEDERAL CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION

    AGO 1983 No. 4 – Mar 18 1983

    Attorney General Ken Eikenberry

    INITIATIVE AND REFERENDUM ‑- LEGISLATURE ‑- CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION ‑- USE OF INITIATIVE TO CALL FOR FEDERAL CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION

    An initiative, under Article II, § 1 of the Washington Constitution, may be used for the purpose of applying to the federal Congress to call a convention for proposing amendments to the United States Constitution in accordance with Article V thereof. (more…)

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    Introduction

    Other sections the Initiatives Amendment and associated documents lead to the following::

    1. The U.S. Congress tolerates critical Problems that seriously harm the People of this State. Excessive influences by special interests are dysfunctional and the primary cause of the Problems. Moreover, Congress exacerbates two major violations of the Constitution.
    2. The only effective Solution is oversight by nationwide Citizens’ Initiatives. The People can trust only themselves to correct these Problems. Any lesser solution will ultimately fail because all appointed and elected officials are subject to great wealth’s Plutocratic corruption.
    3. A Constitutional Amendment is the only way to implement the Solution. There is no expectation that Congress can act against its members’ personal benefits and propose the Amendment by the first method. As planned by the Founding Fathers in the U.S. Constitution, the People must place their faith in their State Legislatures to use the second method of proposing Amendments. The States are the People’s last bastion in defense of the Peoples’ liberty.
    4. If the State Legislatures fail and the People cannot fulfill their right and duty to alter their Government, the People’s only Constitutional remedy is the People’s right and duty to abolish their Government and institute new Government. The Constitution’s 2nd Amendment prepared them for this eventuality with the right of the People to keep and bear Arms. State Legislatures would be disastrously delinquent if they permit this to happen or even to procrastinate. Plutocracies, aristocracies, and dictators throughout recorded history all fear a People’s rebellion.

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    The following discussion looks at some areas in which the People could use nationwide Initiatives to provide Benefits for the States and their people. However, it takes a neutral position on any specific Initiative’s desirability.

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    Pros and Cons of State Support for Amendment

    Government has an obligation to protect its citizens’ rights. The U.S. Congress denies these rights by promoting the welfare of wealthy special interest groups that fund expensive congressional re-election campaigns rather than promoting the general welfare of the People. Congress will not solve this problem; but it is within the States’ Legislatures power to do so by supporting the Initiatives Amendment. The Pros and Cons of this support are presented below.

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    It is reasonable to suppose that at least the following sources of powers, constituencies and factors of will strongly resist and oppose a State’s support of the Initiatives Amendment. Though the constitutional and beneficial reasons for State support are powerful and compelling, there are also powerful forces that may prevent state legislators from endorsing the Initiatives Amendment.
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    Many precedents have been set by the nominal 400 or so State applications to Congress for Article V Conventions. (FOAVC documents 766 applications from 49 States!). The right of a two-thirds majority of the States (i.e., 34 States) to call an Article V Convention by the 2nd Method is clearly defined in the Constitution. However, though Congress has defined procedures by which the States can call an Article V Convention by the 2nd Method, it has avoided passing legislation incorporating the procedures into law. (more…)

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    The States, on behalf of the people of the state, will process this Amendment. Therefore, the concern must be to get it through as easily as possible rather than break new constitutional ground and risk the attendant pitfalls. The States should make the Amendment and its ratification process as defensible as possible. A significant degree of cooperation between the States will be required to avoid pitfalls.

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    The safest approach is for the People to coordinate a generic Initiatives Amendment that each State may adopt independently.

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    Twenty-four US States permit State Initiatives. They are 70% of States needed to call for an Article V Convention; and 63% of States needed to ratify a Constitutional Amendment.
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    The following 26 States have Referendums but no Initiatives:

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    State Citizen Initiative Review Commissions are a much scaled down version of the IQA with the authority to prevent an initiative from going on the ballot or to provide voter advice, but not independently to select an initiative for the ballot.The Citizens’ Initiative Review Commission (CIRC) was established by the Oregon Legislature in 2011 (House Bill 2634). Citizens’ Initiative Review is an innovative way of publicly evaluating ballot measures so voters have clear, useful, and trustworthy information at election time.

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    Introduction

    Though State problems are different from the U.S. government problems, State IQA (SIQA) could solve many problems with the signature-petition initiative process currently experienced by the States—for example:

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