CUSDI

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

Wealth and capitalism are not part of the Problem because they are vital to our economic success. Politics cannot solve the Problem because Congress is so obligated to Plutocracy that it does not even matter which party is in power.

Neither the President nor the Supreme Court have the Constitutional power to solve the Problem; our checks and balances were not designed to address it.

Though the States theoretically have the power to solve some problems by repeated Article V Amendments (Fed. 43Fed. 85), in 240 years the States have not once  enforced it.

The situation is likely to deteriorate because Plutocracy can become Aristocracy within a generation. Moreover, in 1983, 50 companies controlled 90 percent of US media; today, 5 companies control 90 percent of media and the capability to make the People more fearful and compliant – a key prerequisite for authoritarianism. The Problem started long before the two Supreme Court decisions (Citizens United and McCutcheon) delivered unlimited funds to Plutocrats’ candidates and made the Problem even worse.

Any effective solution must be commensurate in speed to Plutocratic actions. This is a critical factor in repeatedly constraining Plutocracy and in defining the Solution’s form, otherwise Plutocracy speed, agility, and perseverance overcome the Peoples’ existing impractical and ponderous options.

Congress neglects the 14 problem examples appearing below, but the People want solutions. The central Problem is that most problems will average about 10 to 20 years for resolution – well over 100 years to consider just these problems:

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 clearly predicting the U.S. crashes of 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.