Tag Archives: States’ Rights

Pathway To A Better State–Part III–Geography

A thorough examination of how two new United States could emerge from a Constitutional Convention to divide the nation into two new portions must include a look at the geography of those new nations.   The case for pursuing this course of action is clear because of the great and unbridgeable chasm between the Left and Right on some many critical issues.  The first and foremost disagreement concerns Federalism or the size, scope and power of the Federal government.  The sides have vastly different outlooks on that vital issue.  Personal freedom from Federal control and regulation is very important to the Right but the Left views that central authority as benign or even a force for good. Economic and tax policies couldn’t be more disparate between the sides.  Then there is the list of social issues that are viewed differently be the sides.   The sides don’t respect the views of each other and indeed on many important matters see the perspective of the other side as anathema to their core beliefs.   To some extent it can be viewed as large urban areas versus the outer suburbs or rural
America.   The divide between those two areas could not be more profound.   Geography matters greatly in all societies and cultures and the division of the US should be sensitive to those effects.

Fortunately the geographic separation is mostly manifest to any rational mind.  One only needs to look at the last few decades of Presidential elections and the elections down ballot at both the Federal and State level.   It is very apparent that the Left is concentrated in the Coastal regions of the country and that definition of coastal would include several states around the coasts of the Great Lakes.  Thus a likely moniker of “Coastal America” because that would be a reasonably accurate description.  But one of many advantages of this separation is that the new Left region can call themselves whatever they want.  The remainder of the country is “Middle America” or whatever that region will ultimately wish to call themselves.   Coastal America would encompass the area north of Virginia to Maine and then pick up a couple of three states on the Great Lakes shores and then move west to the Pacific and all three states from California to Washington.

The Left should be more than satisfied with the area.  It would include many of the great cities.  They would have New York, Boston, Philly, Baltimore and it is posited here that they could have Washington D. C.  Then they would pick up Chicago and likely Detroit.  Out west they get those great urban areas of Los Angeles and San Francisco.    They would have a huge industrial base and abundant natural resources if they wish to develop them.   They would have plenty of great port cities and access to both oceans.   They would get the economic center in New York for as long as they can keep it.   They would have great advantages they could exploit.  Indeed some might point out many difficulties like the NYSE and the commodity exchanges being in Coastal America but that wouldn’t prevent cross border commerce and Middle America would be free to compete for all that business and the better run economy would emerge the strongest which is as it should be.  As far as this commentator is concerned Coastal America could keep D. C.   Middle America would choose its own capital city.   Many of those Lefties in northern Virginia would decide to leave because the size and scope of the Federal authority in D. C. would diminish and Virginia would return to a more robust and long term rational balance economically and politically.   Remember there would be a free flow of people and trade between both nations.  But you would be a citizen of only one or the other with the attendant right and privileges granted by your chosen nation.  You would be subject to the local criminal laws of the nation where you reside or visit and have to pay locally imposed taxes but all other legal matters would be determined by you own nation or State as the case may be.    There would be a sufficient time period allowed for people to migrate from one area to the other before the division takes official status.

Middle America would have the Mississippi and Missouri and the Gulf of Mexico and access to the Atlantic from the southern states.   It would not have direct access to the Pacific but the Panama Canal would be accessible and trade and goods would be allowed to flow freely to the Pacific coast from Middle America so there would be no impediment to its economic viability.   There would also be very abundant natural resources available and it would continue to be the breadbasket for all America and much of the world.   There would be beautiful and beckoning sea shores and New Orleans for the entertainment minded.

Yes, there would be many concerns to be addressed but they could be dealt with.  Even the professional sports of the US could continue without interruption.   It might even add a little more spice to some of the rivalries.   Take the time to look at a map and you can see the logic of this division.  Each state after the Constitutional convention would make its own determination as to which nation it would elect.  That selection process by each state would be determined by each state, closer to the real voters.  For each problem with this proposed solution think about each new opportunity it brings to the two sides.  The Left can have tax policy as they wish.  They can attack the “rich” to their heart’s content and use affirmative action as a hammer to fashion the society they want and do these things without any interference from the Right.    They can let their judges legislate directly from the bench if that is their desire.   They would be free to nationalize any industry or enterprise they wish for the greater good to spread the wealth around in any manner they deem more equitable.   All problems can be solved and both sides will be so much more content without having to deal with the other.  The hard cold facts are we don’t like each other and there no longer exist even mutual respect for the views of the other.  All societies are better off dealing with reality rather than a fantasy society built on the bludgeon of legal force against a sizable minority.   I am confident about the future of Middle America; it will be a nation to take pride it and support and Coastal America can forge its own destiny for good or ill.  Give these ideas reflection.   We created the US from nothing and it turn out pretty good;  each of the new nations would have tremendous advantages in their fresh starts.  More of the problems and concerns you envision will be addressed in future posts.

“Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”   James Madison.   US President.  http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com


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Pathway To A Better State–Part 2, Structure

The basic case was made in the first installment of this series that it has become time to call a Constitutional Convention by the States and restructure the US in a fundamental way so that there will be two new nations with sovereignty over their own affairs.  This is viewed as a logical and more peaceful means to a long-term resolution of the polarization of the US that is so painfully evident today.  It is proffered that those divides cannot and will not be joined by mutually acceptable values and goals.   The separate visions of the country torment us and increase hostility by the opposing sides.  We do want to take pride in our nation.  No doubt of that.  Buy many abhor the nation that promotes Obamacare, wants an aggressive and growing EPA and a Labor Dept. bent on crushing management at ever turn.  The Right has no trust in  such a government.  There is in fact a lack of loyalty to that kind of government; it is viewed as the enemy more than fellow citizens.  The vehemence of the Left is just as strong.  Look only to the recent “Occupy” movement.   They worship government as long as they can control it and the wealth and assets of the nation.  Let them have their sway as long as it is in their own backyard and not ours.  The Left definitely believes they would be better off without the Right.  They view the Right as a burden they have to overcome and an impediment to all their goals.  We don’t have to be at constant war with each other.  There is a better way.

Yes, we share some nostalgic moments of mutual beliefs like the anthem at the football games and the flyover.  But as soon as we discuss the size, scope and role of the Federal government we part and have been parting for decades.  As that famous philosopher Yogi Berra observed our similarities are different.   Yes, making this peaceful division will be difficult but does anyone believe it will prove more difficult than reconciling our Left and Right under current circumstances and political structure?   The Left disdains and belittles the Right as yokels and obstacles to their goal for “progressive” government control of an ever-expanding role for Federal government in all aspect of one’s life literally from cradle to grave as has been their announced intention since FDR.  The Right rebels at the notion of greater Federal government intervention into local government decisions and personal decisions from health care to environmental concerns.
Each would be much happier without the other.

The new nations would divide along geographic lines that are mostly self-evident.  Each would preserve the basic Constitution as written with only minor adjustments.  For example, and example only, the Right portion of the new America would probably adopt a balance budget amendment of some sort.   The Left would not want that.  Good, each would finally achieve their desires.  The three branches of government would remain in tact for each nation and so would the Bill of Rights.  So would virtually all the other amendments in all likelihood.  At least in the new Right America, the 14th amendment might be modified a bit to more clearly define citizenship or maybe not.  That is what is nice about this new structure a chance for each side to set its own future course and agenda.   Each side would have its own divisions within.  Every supporter of the Left does not agree with all the Left agenda.  Bernie Sanders might be a bit too far left for some in New York.  They can work out their differences as they see fit without concern for the views of those of the Right in “fly over” country.   Likewise there will be disagreements on the Right about various issues.  Rand Paul wouldn’t concur with the views of a Mitch McConnell on all matters.  That is ok.  Each side would be working with those who are much more closely aligned with their over view of the US than having to deal with those from the other side.  The current path leads to tragic civil disorder and certain economic collapse.  That is not hyperbole.  What else can result when the two sides don’t want to work with each other and don’t even share common goals.

The world will not come to an end when this is done.  Each side is confident in its vision of the future and they will be free to pursue it.  Each will have a Federal government and states unless the Left decides to just eliminate them which many would love to do now anyway.  Each would have its own economic agenda and tax policy.  The judiciaries would reflect the will of both Left and Right in their respective new nations.  That alone will be an enormous relief to both sides.  Each would have its own military force but strong mutual defense treaties in all likelihood.  Trade and commerce could flow freely between the new borders which would benefit both.   But make no mistake you would be a citizen of one or the other so than the votes and political wishes of each new nation would reflect the will of its people and no other.   Yes, there are many questions that come to mind on these matters just stated and more.  The above and others will be addressed in later postings in detail.  Those issues and “problems” can be resolved.  After all we started from scratch in the late 18th century with none of the vast advantages we currently enjoy.  That worked out pretty well for over two centuries.  Each of the new nations can have a bright future due to the more harmonious political environment.  Not a perfect one but more closely matching the wishes of its populace.  The bonds of union are tattered because there two distinct and conflicting views for future growth and political action and the proper role of Federal government.  This is not a call to rebellion but a call for a legal method to recognize the wishes of the people of both Left and Right and allow each to live in peace without the interference or obstruction of the other.

Buchanan to Lincoln “…if you are as happy on entering the White House as I on leaving, you are a very happy man indeed.”   http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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Pathway To A Better State

The recent 2012 campaign season has highlighted once again the stark and irreparable divisions within the US.   Those divisions have been manifest for decades now and river of discord runs deep and  wide.  They transcend simple explanations over one or two contentious issues.  The divide separates along core values for each constituent group.  We still compose a single nation-state but clearly are two separate societies within that framework.   Like identical twins originating from a single miraculous event but then pulling apart to become distinct individuals even though from a common bond.  We now must deal with that reality and the current organization of the US political system ill serves each of those societies denying to both their own vision of the future.

Most of us share a common pride in what the US was.  Many on the Left do not.  We are now confined to a nation that no longer gives expression to our values.  Certainly the Democrats and Left want a radically different set of values from those in common use today.  It is beliefs, values and social abstractions that bind a people not political divisions on a map.  It is the coalescing of those common values that gives life and energy to the political divisions that result in different states.  It cannot be gainsaid that we have two sets of value oriented views of the world.   They don’t mesh and never shall the twain meet.   The tensions and conflicts between these approaches to self-governance of a free people will escalate as the tides of advantage to one side or the other ebb and wane.    Many of us believe this is not the US the Greatest Generation fought so hard to preserve.   We abhor the direction we are taking and those of the Left wish to accelerate that direction.

This fact of divide and polarization has been brought to light in the recent movement for secession that has cropped up since our most recent election.   A peaceful and orderly re-organization of the US over the next generation is a much better path for the future of all regardless of Right or Left.  Our current path is one that will ultimately lead to true civil unrest, societal pain and divisions brought about by violence or near war-like discord.   These pages have previously mentioned the best path for this alternative approach.  We need to begin the process of calling a Constitutional Convention to give voice and reality to the two separate visions of the US.  Article V permits this approach.  The last time it was seriously considered was during the ’70’s and early ’80’s by those advocating the passage of the ERA amendment to the Constitution.  When their effort was falling short some of the Left mulled over the idea in public of trying the Convention as an alternative method to assure its passage.  That Amendment and the effort failed.   Are our current divisions so fundamental and endemic as to require such a step?   A realistic assessment says that the divide cannot be breached in our current political structure.

We have two very opposing views of the role of our Federal government and it is at that level where almost all the contentions collide.   The Democrats and Left believe in a large and almost omnipotent federal authority.  They view the Federal government as the helping hand encased in the velvet glove lifting up those in “need”.   They define need broadly and want everyone else to accept their definition.  To even disagree with their definition makes you an enemy.   Others believe the Federal government is the boot on the neck of the people.   That it intrudes into areas best left to the States and into the personal and economic lives of everyone.  There is a dramatic and irreconcilable chasm regarding the concept of Federalism.  The Democrats view it as a quaint and outdated concept from another era.  The rest view it as the bulwark of our freedoms.  The Democrats really would prefer that States be merely provinces of the nation with all control emanating from Washington.  TV talk show hosts and others love to make their cute little jokes about “fly over country” but sadly there is great truth to that comment and it reveals the true attitude of the Democrats.  They would prefer States be  administrative districts like they have in Metropolitan France or had in ancient Rome following the directives and edicts of
Washington.  They want power, power concentrated in Washington and obeisance from the populace.  Please review carefully your Solzhenitsyn, read lots of history of the Communists regimes around the world.  Stalin thought of himself as a champion of the little guy.  As an elite though he also believed he knew better than they want was good for them and certainly knew what the societal mores should be.   Opposition was not brooked.   But whether we of the Right  like it or not there are millions in the US that desire that kind of government.   Why not let them have their Eden commune on earth as long as we all don’t have to bow down to their Baal.

This has been building for decades.  It had its core with FDR and then was accelerated with LBJ and is reaching a zenith with the election of the current occupant of the White House.  But when they are gone there will others in their mold to step forward and continue the  road left.   If those on the Right could prevail it would not bring peace because the Left would ratchet up their venom and fight to tear down opposition to their forward march to a larger more powerful and ultimately more socialist government.  If we are going to become a Socialist European style government then what are the advantages to being in the US for those who believe that is so wrong on a moral level and destructive to individual freedom.   Why not live in Switzerland, Sweden, Scotland or Germany?

We’ve had a wonderful history even with our bumps along the way.  Mostly we have been a force for good in the world, at least the Right believes that we have, the Left not so much.   But things do change eventually as they have from the beginning of recorded time.  Rome didn’t last forever, neither did the British hegemony, nor the Kublai Khan.  It is not necessary to destroy the ideal of the US as envisaged by each political segment.  Left and Right can each have their domain without the opposition of the other.  But that destruction is assured if we don’t address our differences and divisions intelligently and forthrightly.  Many have said in times past that there is more than unites us than divides.  Only the hopeless optimist or foolhardy could possibly believe that today.  The fact is that there is far more that divides us than unites us today.  Pride of nation is deeply split along values.  Many take no pride whatsoever in the current actions of the Federal government, others cheer all its actions and want even more.   We can both be happy  if we each have a Federal government more in tune with our beliefs, values and aspirations.  In coming posts we shall explore specifics of some of the major differences and how each element in on nation can pursue its own course without so much interference  and outright obstruction by the other.   Yes, there would be problems but none any greater to solve that living in a nation divided and heading to civil disharmony and dysfunction.  There is a better way and a better place for all of us.  The Democrats should love this change.  Yes, they will lose some minions and slavish robots to the Federal government but truly they will rejoice in getting rid of most of those gun-toting, Bible- thumping rednecks and yahoos.   We of the Right do not respect or trust them and they disdain us.  Do you really think that will change?

Come again for details and the guide map that Pathway to Coastal America and Middle America where each pursues its own vision of governance and each allows the freedoms demanded from only its own citizens.  (Central power, Taxes, Supreme Court, environment, role of military, Rule of Law, social issues, size of government, economic system, capitalism.)

“A House divided shall not stand”…..stated in several places in the Bible, both Old and New Testaments.   http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com



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2 Cents Worth On Life Its Ownself

Lot’s of thoughts to pass along today from the headlines of our times and times past…..

If the Individual mandate is held to be constitutional then we truly will have passed from a system of limited government to a parliamentary type system.  In upheld then any future Congress can simply state that a new law is being passed because the activity is deemed part of interstate commerce and pass anything they want.  There will be no limits as we originally intended with our Constitution.  In parliamentary systems that is the way things work.  The majority party can pass anything it likes and that is the law, period unless and until it is repealed or modified by a later parliament.  I personally like the idea of the Federal government having clear boundaries on its authority over us.  If this is upheld they could easily decide that only 5 banks were going to be allowed to operate in the future and that everyone would be required to get a debit card from one of them and use them for all purchases.  They have power over the banks already and spending your money certainly affects interstate commerce and of course the federal demographers, Census bureau, Labor department and the FBI and Homeland Security would love to have a clear track record of everything you buy.  Give it some thought.  Is that the kind of government you want? Even if they didn’t do it would you want the Feds to have that power?

Per the Federal Reserve it bought 61% of all the Treasury issues last year.  That is troubling and should concern us all.  The artificially low rates do to the Fed purchases distort and hide the true cost of our national debt.  Bernancke talks about the real demand for our debt in the markets.  The facts belie that statement.  That fact also denies his constant assertion that the Fed is not monetizing the deficits each year.  You do understand that when the Fed buys those Treasury notes they simply print up the money to do it; it is created out of whole clothe and does not represent a real increase in economic worth of our country.  It helps the federal government keep the cost of borrowing low for a while.  But even supporters of this action realize it can’t go on forever.   Sooner or later the “markets” will demand much higher rates for lending us money or the inflation dragon will begin to breathe real fire.   There is no strong demand world-wide for US debt or the Feds wouldn’t have to “buy” so much of it with their printing press.   As the political season progresses we need to pay attention to the deficits and the total debt and the real cost when we have to start paying market rates for our debt which will add hundreds of billions annually to our deficit.

Don’t rest on your oars yet about the Greek debt crisis.  The latest polls indicate that the parties that just signed and agreed to the EU bailout are in real danger of losing the elections scheduled in the next few weeks.  The opposition is vehemently opposed to the bailout and the austerity called for under it.   If they do win then the odds dramatically  that Greece will exit the Eurozone voluntarily or involuntarily.  There will be chaos again because of the fear that Portugal, Spain or Italy might be next.  Of course the Germans might sooner or later simply throw up their hands and say to hell with all of them.   Watch your stock portfolio carefully the next few months. The fat lady may have sung on the last bailout but someone might be writing a new Act to the opera.

The incident with the Jetblue pilot is a sad story.  You have to feel for him and his family for the mental torment he is obviously enduring.  The passengers must have been rightly terrified during the entire incident.  Glad all ended well and hope that man recovers his balance.

During the 5th and 6th centuries what were considered heretical sects of Christianity by the Catholic Church spread across much of the mid east and even into India and China.  Little known fact but they had monasteries and priests, the whole shebang.  Indeed about a 100o years later when the Portuguese came to Gao off the coast of India they were surprised to find many there who were “Christian”.  Of course they didn’t recognize the Pope in Rome so conflict became the rule of the day in that region.   They imprisoned many of the leaders and brought rule from Rome.  However the Nestorians as they were called endured until the Dutch replaced the Portuguese and they rose up against the Portuguese and re-established they connection to their “bishop” who held sway over that Christian sect from Baghdad.  

The peach buds have popped out already but it is that time of year.  Seven or eight weeks from now we will have fresh peaches for a couple of weeks to adorn the vanilla ice cream or to do a cobbler.   Assuming the lady of the house deigns to do a cobbler.

Are you aware that the EPA has “cops” to enforce its laws and rules?  I mean they have badges and carry guns and are authorized to arrest people and shoot them.  I mean why else do they carry guns?  Its one thing for the FBI do have this authority but the list of other government agencies that allow federal cops to use force to compel compliance with Federal rules is troubling to me.   I didn’t know they had police force til just the other day.  If environment laws have been violated them let the issues citations and impose fines but arresting people under threat of being shot? I don’t think so.  Let real cops enforce our criminal laws.

On the relationship of government and man–“A ploughman on his legs is higher than a gentleman on his knees.” Ben Franklin www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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2 Cents Worth On Life Its Ownself

If you don’t think these are worth the price we offer a refundable scrip for the next edition at twice the price and all for only 19.99.  Otherwise enjoy your investment for today.

On the renewable energy/green front there is no one more “green” than the Germans.  They have the world’s largest users of solar panels and the like.  They also announced last year they are closing all their nuclear plants within a decade partially as a result of the Japanese disaster.   However if you read the fine print in the news lately they have sharply cut back on their subsidies for solar and just last week a second solar panel facility filed for bankruptcy.  Hmmm, they will figure it out, they are Germans after all, but one wonders if they have really picked the right horse for the future ride.  You want a preview of our solar future, watch the Germans for the tell.

Speaking 0f green, we notice that the Labor dept. stats list a bus driver driving a hybrid bus as a “green” job for their estimate of th total jobs in the category.  One would think the bus driver would drive whatever type bus they gave him.   Delve into the report yourself and see how well your tax dollars are spent by bureaucrats probing all aspects of the economy and then counting as green jobs everything they in their infinite wisdom perceive to be connected to that movement.  Even if you believe every categorization they make do we really need to pay someone to come up with those numbers?  How does that info add to our economic output?

You can sleep easier now.  Those particles sent from Switzerland to Rome didn’t travel faster than the speed of light after all.  Seems the machines weren’t properly calibrated and the readings were false.  Whew, otherwise a lot of what we trust in like gravity would have been in question.  We already have enough questions about life as it is.

In the earliest days of our Republic we still had a fairly primitive economy compared to the English.  Yes, we had a currency but its value was still in doubt and the merchants of the day had to be pretty darn good with their math and up on world affairs and the different values of foreign currency.  At that time it was still very common for commercial transactions to be consummated with foreign currency.  Spanish doubloons, English pounds sterling, Dutch Guilders and Italian ducats were still pretty common currency all along the eastern seaboard and the ports there.  The merchants had to determine how to make the conversions for many different currencies and what currency would be accepted by their counterparties, especially those overseas.  Foreign merchants were reluctant to accept payment in US funds.  But our paying off our state bonds, as promoted by Hamilton, greatly helped the value of our money.

The Egyptians built truly remarkable structures in the ancients times–the Pyramids, the Sphinx and all those buildings at Assam and Memphis.   Interesting that they never could figure out the engineering or muster the will to build the Suez canal.  That had to wait for millenia and the Europeans.  It was the French who built the canal to great fanfare but lukewarm financial support in the mid 19th century.  It took about ten years to complete and the British were constantly carping about it.  After all they were the world’s leading economic power then and controlled most international trade.    The Brits even provoked turmoil among the workers on the canal who they touted as slave labor.  After completion there was one other problem the engineers and businessmen involved hadn’t paid enough regard.  The early days of the canal were less than successful because most ships still were moved by sail.  The prevailing winds in that region move west to east and thus passage was long and sometimes not possible at all for days at a time.  It took the steam engines and ironclads to make it a success.  They maybe should have consulted more with the seafaring men before they started they venture.  Amazing how overlooking the obvious happens over and over.  The original company that built the canal went bust.  There is a lesson there for all of us.

The reports say that there are 25 Secret Service agents with the Obama kid on her vacation.  That is probably and sadly  correct,  I suspect.  As stated here before that protection for Presidents and others has reached ridiculous proportions. Yes, we need some protection for Presidents and those in succession and maybe a very minimal amount for ex-Presidents but that is it.   As late as Harry Truman’s term and Ike, they just left the White House as private citizens and went home.  Twenty-five agents for a child of a President is absurd regardless of who is President and regardless of Party.  We need to regain some sense of balance and responsible use of taxpayer money.  If we are that worried about the President’s safety then just use a company of Marines around the White House, they are already being paid.  Just asking for some common  sense in all this. 

If under Obamacare the individual mandate is upheld we will  have lost most of our traditional freedoms to a central government that can run rough-shod over our State’s historical role of being in charge of police powers.  Next to regulate “interstate commerce” the Feds could require that all future IRS payments be made with US Treasury notes or bills.  They would force you to loan money to the government then take those same notes you hold as payment for your taxes.  Multiply that over millions of tax payers and you are talking real money.   If they can make you buy insurance what makes you think they couldn’t require you to loan them money?   Regardless of the need for health care reform such alleged reform is not worth allowing unfettered power to the Federal government.   That is why we only gave them enumerated powers and have a Bill of Rights. 

“History teaches that among the men who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number have begun their career by paying obsequious court to the people; commencing demagogues, and ending tyrants” A. Hamilton.  www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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Governmental-Educational Complex

We have had various warnings from leaders over the history of our nation.  It started with Washington in his famous Farewell Address when he warned of many things but among them was the danger in “foreign entanglements” and to avoid them.  At that time and place it was pretty sound advice for the young nation.  We were still very small potatoes in the world and needed the peace and quiet to grow and prosper.  Washington rightly worried that treaties with too many other nations and with too many conditions would inevitably lead to conflicts if not outright war and that would be devastating to the budding Republic.    Indeed as we know from our history we did have several wars during our first 15 years or so after his departure.  There was the undeclared war with the French over trade, the also undeclared war with the Barbary pirates and Muslims on the north African coast and the declared war with Britain in 1812.  Along the way we also had some tussles with the Spanish here and there.   It would have been difficult to pick the right partner during those times and not having a formal alliance with one or the other probably was the smart play.

About 150 years later Eisenhower came along to warn us about the industrial-military complex and the perceived power and influence it was having on our national policy and the skewed effects on our economy.  Again, the advice was probably not too bad at the time.  Many thought the advice was odd coming as it did during the height of the Cold War.  It was believed that we needed a very strong industrial base to support our military operations to hold back the advance of the Communists.  They had been very aggressive in announcing their intentions to take over the world.  They even had organizations for that purpose controlled from Moscow.   But Ike was concerned that the industry supporting our military needs was too strong and could thwart national and international policy with its lobbying in Congress.  That the agenda was more about preserving market share than it was the national interest.   We did need a very strong military presence at that time.  You may recall that one of the key elements of the Kennedy victory in 1960 was the alleged “missile gap” between ourselves and the Communist.  Although there was in fact no missile gap and Kennedy knew it he continued to pound on the subject and it found a receptive chord with the public.  This was the era of Sputnik and the rocket and space race and SAC and the beginnings of the ICBM’s.   Generally, Ike’s advice was not followed and probably it was correct not to do so as the Communists were relentless during those years with their aggression around the world.   We may have overdone it some but better to have too many weapons that are never used than too few when desperately needed.

Today I wish some leader would bang the tocsin with a clarion call to cut back on the governmental-educational complex.  All our major universities and colleges that do any research are in a constant competition for Federal funding for their programs.  You cannot find a single large school that does not receive millions, if not hundreds of millions, per year for directed research.  This has been true for some time but has accelerated during the last 25 years to truly gigantic proportions.   You can bet that many of the scientists and academics at these schools spend as much time preparing their grant request as they do actual research.   Lots of the large schools have either full-time staff that do nothing but this or hire specialists to prepare these applications.   The amount of money going to the educational system is staggering.  Just recently there as been the Race To The Top funding grant with gazillions at stake and in this case it is the States themselves that are seeking the money.  

The department of commerce hands them out, the department of transportation, the department of Energy;  the EPA is a huge contributor, and even the Pentagon doles out grants.  The behemoth of course is the department of Education.   Naturally what gets lost in the shuffle is that education is not a federal concern at all.  We all want a good education for our children and a sound educational system but the Constitution does not provide that as a Federal area of authority.  The States are in control of education along with the private schools.  We also seem to forget that all this money doesn’t come from the Government, Inc., it comes from us.   We get taxed to the hilt and ship that money to DC and then some pointed-headed bureaucrat makes rules, regulations and mandates and then magnanimously return a portion of  it to our state with strings attached by people far away.  

Too many academics are in the “business” of applying for grants just as are too many of the community organizations that apply for and receive these funds.  If a school has a great idea for research they should ask their alumni or private industry to fund the program.  If it is meritworthy it will receive it.  It will be judged on its use and usefullness to society rather than some political agenda from Washington.   That competition between universities would be a good thing.  It would more likely be a competition on merit rather than political connections.  You really think the applications for Iowa State receives the same consideration as the one from Harvard?   Have you checked lately how many Harvard grads are in the current administration?

All of those grants should be cut off root and branch.  Let all that money stay with the citizens of the respective states and let them decide which schools and universities should receive which funding.   Make them compete for private money, not political sway.  The research would be better.  We don’t need an entire industry built on applying for grant money and the lobby that supports it.  It is not productive.  You want transparency then lets start with this whole area and take a look at the numbers and the results and specifically at the players who benefit.  You want more ACORNS to be getting your tax dollars or more research on the alleged decline of some obscure fish in the tago tago river in El Somewhereland?  If those things are useful they will find the money elsewhere.

Is there anything better on a crisp fall morning than a cup of coffee in your backyard and looking up to see a flock of geese heading south?  That dependability of cycles is reassuring in our sometimes hectic world.  http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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Water, Water, Everywhere

It is with alarm that thinking people are very concerned about the latest legislation proposed in Congress to expand the authority of the EPA to regulate and control another vital area of our economy and private lives.  The EPA from its inception has had the power unfortunately to control and regulate the “navigable waters” of the US.   That phrase has a long and well established history in the law under the Commerce clause of the Constitution.  The interpretation is sadly over broad in the first instance.  It has historically meant that the waters had to be large enough to support shipping.

The Courts over the years have further refined that definition to mean waters that can be modified to support shipping.  Thus a pretty small creek already was subject to Federal regulation.   The large rivers and lakes throughout the US have long be also subject to the control and regulation of the US Corps of Engineers.  Over the last three decades though the Corps has become in many instances nothing more than a branch office for the EPA.  The Corp mostly only regulates for safety issues such as dams, levees and the like.  It is the EPA that gets to swing the big stick of control by enforcing its rule to protect the water if any activity or agents are deemed to have a material “impact” on the quality of the water.  Of course the EPA gets to determine what is an “impact” and what will affect quality.   No one argues against have clean and safe water for our personal use or our industrial use.  The rub comes when the EPA is setting regulations to support some much large social or policy agenda and uses its powers to further those aims which are well beyond its original precept.   Such as a green agenda or a climate change agenda.  That is well beyond assuring safe, clean water.

The new legislation being proposed will drop the word “navigable” from the law.  So that the EPA has jurisdiction over all the “waters” of the US.  Under the already existing laws the EPA was allowed to regulate and control not just the navigable waters but all  the drainage areas and basins that affected the river or lake.  That is already a huge slice of America.  Now with the broader definition they can expand exponentially their powers to regulate.  Every drainage ditch, creek that you literally could step over and all those private ponds and livestock tanks in the US will be subject to EPA regs.   You might just roll your eyes and say well, it won’t have any effect on me in Milwaukee or Kansas City.   You better think again.  Those private livestock tanks number in the hundreds of thousands.  Likewise there are countless little creeks and rills running throughout the country that ultimately feed into one of the larger rivers.   Cattlemen have dug out and created Lord only knows how many thousands of these things.  It might not be much of an issue on the Upper West Side of Manhattan but it is everywhere else, especially west of the Mississippi.

Can you imagine the cost to ranchers of cattle, sheep, goats and horses and any other livestock if they have to control the drainage into and out of those tanks?  They use chemicals on their ranches, the livestock create their own mess by heeding the call of nature where the mood strikes them including when they are standing on the bank of the water tank.   They will be able to dictate what you can do with your yard and garden area if you have a little rill running behind your house that is three feet wide but your land drains into it.   They might decide those composts plots for your tomatoes are a danger to everyone downstream.  You think that is an exaggeration?    Who would have thought the Feds would issue rules to protect a 1 inch fish that no one cares about that jeopardize the livelihood of thousands of farmers in central California?  Never underestimate the thirst for power and control of a Federal bureaucrat or Federal judge supporting them.

The EPA will be able to control any discharge of any chemical, including natural chemical like compost matter over virtually the entire US.  Just look at a map or take a drive out West and look at all those water tanks.  They will be able to control all drainage issues to and from those creeks and tanks.  You likely will have to get a permit to dam up a small creek on your own property even if it is miles from any “public” water source.   Your livestock might  die waiting for the approval process to be completed.  But, hey, we’ll stimulate the economy because of all those thousands of extra Federal employees that will be needed to make up rules and enforce them.   Between the new EPA hires and those at the IRS to enforce the health care mandates we will be able to tax, spend and regulate our way out of the recession.  The Feds aren’t just a menace but are menacing.   It is a long way from Cody, Wyoming to Washington but we are told those folks who’ve never been west of the Appalachia chain know best about everything and they are only doing it for our own good.  Gee, I have more faith in the public myself, I think they can usually get what is best for them without outside help.

“There is no nonsense so arrant that is cannot be made the creed of the vast majority by adequate governmental action.  B. Russel  http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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The Federal Money Merry Go Round

Over the past 70 years or so we have steadily eroded our Federal system of government and governance of our nation.  The Federal government has encroached on more and more areas that traditionally and Constitutionally were reserved to the States.  Most of these impositions have been indirect takeovers of certain industries, enterprises or functions such as imposing such as in education, the environment and welfare programs of all sorts.   These takeovers are accomplished by the Feds first issuing a mandate that the States have to perform certain functions or provide services as defined and supervised by the Feds. 

Education is a prime example but certainly not the only one.   Going back to the ’60’s the Feds started with all these head start programs and breakfast and lunch programs.  The various mandates of the Feds have only grown, like they always do, with regard to education.  Now they have these standards for achievement and teacher performance.  I am all for education and a good education at that with demanding standards for the administrators, teachers and children.   Sadly, all this Federal intrusion into education has not produced positive results.   Forget in my opinion the “buzz” from all the academics about improvements here and there.  Just look around your neighborhood, city or State.  Do YOU see evidence that our kids are challenged and that the curricula are demanding?  You have bound to heard about grade inflation and have an opinion on it.  They can’t do basic math, write a coherent sentence, know little about science if anything and when it comes to history or political science they are deplorable or worse misinformed by revisionist teachers.  Please read a 7th grade history text this month.  Draw your own conclusions about what they are learning or more importantly not learning.

We do need a good educational system but that is and should be the responsibility of the States and not the domain of the Feds.  Jefferson was one of the earliest and staunchest supporters of public education and devoted his life after politics to the construction and establishment of the University of Virginia.  We need local control and local responsibility for all matters regarding our schools.  The Federal government shouldn’t be providing free meals, after school programs and certainly shouldn’t have anything to do with the curriculum or class room standards.  That should be addressed by the individual States.  If there are hungry children at school then the local school district should deal with that or the State.  Likewise all matters regarding teaching and quality of education should come from the local roots. 

We have allowed ourselves to become Provinces of the central government rather than sovereign States as envisioned in the Constitution and the Federalist Papers.   The Feds accomplish this by making a mandate and then taxing the wadding out of us and then taking the money and telling us that if we don’t follow their bidding that they will withhold the Federal money for the different programs.  Only today there are news accounts of the latest from the EPA about ozone standards being altered again.  When the new rules come out those localities not in Federal compliance will lose their funding for highways.  Exactly the same thing happens with Medicaid, the education grants, the welfare programs, etc.  Where do they think the money comes from in the first place?  They take it from us, denying that money to our local States.  I wish for once that a vast majority of the States would rise up and tell the Feds, “Hell NO” we don’t want your money and don’t want to be in your programs.  At the same time the local populace would tell their epresentatives and Senators that they better reduce the Federal tax burden in a proportionate amount. 

It would be nice if someone would pay for the research to go through the labyrinthine Federal set up and all the agencies, Departments and bureaus and calculate the number of programs and the money that they cost.  You know it would be billions, hundreds of billions annually.    All that money could be repatriated to the States where it rightfully belongs in the first place for education and other areas.   Let the States decide how they want to deal with these issues and let them tax their residents as determined by local politics.    Competition is a good thing.  Education is a good thing.   Let the States have their money and let them put out an education product and let the competition begin.  It would be so healthy for the nation.  Some would lag behind others but they would have a lot of incentive to improve or they would lose the economic race and challenge to the States  offering a better product.  Let the States take care of the welfare of their citizens and their educational needs.  Except for the Interstate Highway system, let the States foot the bill for their road system.  Why in the world should folks in Mich. have to pay for Parish bridges in Louisiana? 

The friction of competition and the variety of options that would be offered would be very good for the nation as a whole.   Those with the best systems would flourish and the others would have a model to emulate.

Those guys a long  time ago we smart enough to figure out how to do lots of things that baffle me.  How the heck did Hannibal load those elephants  on to those galleys and transport them to Europe?  We are talking about ships that were 60 to 90 long at the most and only 15 to 18 feet at the beam.  How do you get an elephant that weighs two tons or more on that?  And where in the world do your put him when you do get him aboard?  The miracle is I guess that after all that they somehow managed to sail with them without too many of them going berserk en route and capsizing the ship.  http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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Rights, Responsibilities and Society

It seems that all societies go through periods when they confuse or diminish the distinctions between rights and responsibilities.  On the one hand everyone today is claiming that everything is a personal right and on the other they believe it is the government’s responsibility to fix anything and everything they perceive as not working out the way they think they should.  Both government and individuals have responsibilities and the individuals should have rights in their relationships with government.  Our private dealings with another should fall into another category.  Those would involve the rules of curtesy, manners  and civil behavoir with one another.  We forget that many of the things we assume or rights are in fact privileges granted either by the state or by society.

One of the most common assumptions is that we have the right to drive a car.  Not true.   There is no such right.   We are given a license by the State to drive those vehichles.  It is a privilege and can be lost due to our own behavoir.  We forget that often.   Some now argue that medical care is a right, somehow guaranteed under the Constitution.  It can be declared as such as often as some want but that does not make it so.    No doubt that is a societal obligation as a matter of charity to see to the needs of the truly less fortunate and those that have encountered bad luck along the road of life.  That however is a far different matter than having a right under law to medical treatment.  Can we send doctors to jail for not treating a patient?  Would you want a society where that could happen?  We would all hope that any doctor would be morally compelled to aid those suffering but it would be quite another thing to threaten jail for failure to render such service.  Same with the plumber.  Do you  have a right to have your leaking toilet repaired regardless of whether you  can pay for it or not?  That leak can and will cause very serious damage to your home without repair but does that mean the plumber is obligated to make the repair free or even if you  will pay is he obligated to fix it.  What if he just doesn’t want to.  We need to be very careful when we create a right.  I think our Founders did an excellent job with defining our rights and keeping them simple and yet profound at the same time.  Most of life’s issues they left to us as members of socities or to local authority which is much more in tune with the local concerns and needs of its citizens.

All matters regarding family life have been left to the States to decide.  We have no National rights with regard to those matters such as marriage or adoption.   We have no right to marriage even under the various State laws.  If it was a right then you wouldn’t need a marriage license.  You get the license because marriage is a fundamental concern  of the State.  All family relationships are a concern of the State that is why we have laws against incest and child abuse.  In times not that far removed those matters were mostly left to the man of the house and the State would merely approve whatever action the father took with regard to an errant child or wife.  Likewise that is why up to now we have had laws against polygamy in all the States.  The State we have decreed has such a fundamental interest in the integrity and structure of the family unit that we have ceded authority over all such matters to the State.  If gay marriages were a matter of right then there would be no need for a license.   But even those marriages require a license from the State.  Historic recognition of “common law” marriages never equated with recognition of any right to marriage. 

I frankly don’t rank the gay marriage issue up on my top 20 concerns one way or the other but I am concerned by the ever expanding theory that everything is somehow a right.  It seems fair to assume that if everyone is free to do whatever they please as a matter of right then we really don’t have any freedoms or rights at all but a loosely organized anarchy.  We will all be better off if we stick to the fundamental rights as outlined in the Constitution and then make such adjustments in our family relationships as the people decide in the democratic process.  We have all decided so far that polygamy is a detriment to society and that should remain the rule until we collectively change it by our vote not the decision of a judge somewhere.  We should maintain few rights but guard those we have zealously.

Likewise we must monitor the power of the state with the authority it has over us and its power to “license” our activities we deem important to a functioning society and economy.  We need to be careful that the States or Federal government right to grant corporate charters is never used to control our economy and free markets.  Nor should “regulations” for our own good and protection every exceed the authority of Article One of the ennumerated powers lest they may not be for our own good but for the aggrandizement of an elite governing cabal.

Our weakening dollar will not do our economy any good over the long haul.  Yes, it helps some industries with exports in the short run but on a macroeconomic scale we want our dollar to be the most prized possesion on earth.  That will make our economy stronger and a better standard of living for each American.  Lots of energy and a strong dollar are the backbone of our modern economy.  Our natural urge for innovation will take care of the rest.  wwwe.olcranky.wordpress.com

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