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Gerrymander: U.S. Politics. The dividing of a state, county, etc., into election districts so as to give one political party a majority in many districts while concentrating the voting strength of the other party into as few districts as possible.
Visualize a mythical city having exactly ten thousand voting residents, 9,000 of whom consistently vote DRY and only 1,000 consistently vote WET.
The city is divided into ten voting districts, with each district having one vote in the city’s legislature.
The WET politicians have a great idea. Gerrymander the district boundaries so that all 9,000 consistently DRY-voting residents live in just four of the districts, while the other six districts hold all 1,000 consistently WET-voting residents.
Given that version of gerrymandering, the six consistently WET districts vote to allow four taverns on every corner of the city, even in the DRY districts.
Despite the fact that the massive majority of voters in the mythical city do not want any taverns at all, the tiny minority forces taverns on them.
Sounds unfair, doesn’t it — 1,000 people forcing taverns on 9,000 disenfranchised people.
Any form of gerrymandering is counter to America’s most fundamental belief in fairness as expressed in the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal”.
If all men are created equal, each of us should have an equal vote, not just in our district, or in our city, or in our county, or in our state, or in our nation.
The problem with that is what has been called the “tyranny of the majority.” Much of the law is based on protecting the minority from the majority. The question then becomes, “When should the majority rule and when should the minority rule?”
As we indicated previously, fairness is the soul of the law. But fairness depends on perspective.
If you live in a small residential neighborhood, is it fair for a city to allow businesses to build factories in your midst? Is it fair for a county to tell a city what to do? A state to tell a county? The nation to tell a state?
We have federal laws, state laws, county laws and city laws (We even have neighborhood laws in the form of Home Owners Associations) Is it fair for federal laws to prevail over state laws, state laws to prevail over county laws, county laws to prevail over city laws? City laws to prevail over HOA laws? Where does fairness begin and end?
The question comes up all the time. The federal government outlaws marijuana, while the residents of some states want it to be legal. What is fairest to the residents of the state?
States may punish undocumented immigrants, while the residents of some cities wish to protect those immigrants, and have made themselves “sanctuary” cities. What is fairest to residents of the cities?
Some counties and even villages voted to be “dry” (alcohol-free), while all their neighbors voted “wet.” Would it be fair to force the “dry’s” to be “wet”?
Some states mandate that all villages provide “affordable” housing to a certain percentage of residents. But what about villages in which every dwelling is a home valued at $10 million or more? Should they be forced to provide “affordable” housing? How would that work?
Chicago has a horrible gang problem, with gun killings on almost a daily basis. The mayor and city council would like to institute stronger gun control laws, as they were years ago. But federal law has been interpreted to allow almost anyone to own a gun. Is this fair to the citizens of Chicago, who must “duck and cover” every time they leave the house, and who desperately want more control over guns?
Or would gun control laws be unfair to the gun-owners who themselves “duck and cover” when they leave the house, so they feel they need guns to protect themselves?
And now we come to the United States as a nation, the ultimate example of gerrymandering. Donald Trump lost the popular vote, but won the election in more states. Particularly, he won in “battleground” states. Was this fair to the citizens of other states?
Is it fair to the millions of voters in California, Illinois, Texas, New York and the other consistently “red” and “blue” states?
If you are a resident of a bright red or bright blue state, your Presidential vote functionally means nothing. Candidates hardly pay attention to you.
If you are among the millions of voters living in Texas or California, your vote has zero influence on who your President will be. Is this fair, no matter which side you’re on?
In fact, the vast majority of American voters had no impact on the Presidency. They were gerrymandered. If you are among the small minority of Americans who live in Florida, Ohio, Iowa, and to a lesser extent, Pennsylvania and Virginia, it was you who decided who would be the President of the entire United States.
The majority had no say at all. Is this fair?
Is it fair that small states are granted more electors per capita, than are large states.
The average electoral vote represents 436,000 people, but that number rises and falls per state depending on that state’s population over 18 years of age.
The states with the fewest people per electoral vote, and therefore the highest “vote power,” are Wyoming, Vermont, and North Dakota.
In Wyoming, there are 143,000 people for each of its three electoral votes. The states with the weakest votes are New York, Florida, and California. These states each have around 500,000 people for each electoral vote.
In other words, one Wyoming voter has roughly the same vote power as four New York voters.
Is that fair?
It gets worse. Each state choses how to allocate its electors.
If a state wished, it could allocate according to votes. That is, if 2/3 of a state’s voters selected Candidate “A,” the state could opt to allocate 2/3 of its electoral votes to Candidate “A” and 1/3 to Candidate “B.”
But, to give themselves greater importance in the election process, each state (except Nebraska and Maine) arbitrarily has opted to give all their electoral votes to the winning candidate — “winner-take-all.”
Donald Trump lost the popular vote but won the electoral vote, because he won several populous states by tiny margins, while losing other populous states by large margins. The margins meant nothing.
The U.S. uniquely has an electoral college, that is designed for gerrymandering. It was invented by people who did not trust the wisdom (or ignorance) of the common people, so “wiser” people were granted the right to select the President.
In practice, it has not evolved that way.
The political parties select the electoral college electors, not on wisdom, but on loyalty or length of service, and it is quite rare for an elector to deviate from what the party wants.
In fact, 26 states mandate by law, that the electoral college elector cast his vote for a specific candidate. So the electors’ supposed “wisdom” is a mirage.
As we said, fairness depends on perspective. The electoral college intentionally was designed to be unfair to national majorities, while being unfair to local minorities.
Can anything be done about this? Should anything be done?
“Can”? Of course. We could do away with the electoral college and merely have national popular voting. This would require a Constitutional amendment, which would require the majority of states to vote against their own best interests. Unlikely.
There is a way to narrow the clearly unfair voting power that small state residents have over large state residents: Legislate elimination of the “winner-take-all” state selection of electors and require every state to select in proportion to votes, thus not disenfranchising the minority.
In the 2016 Presidential election, not only were the majority of American voters disenfranchised, but the minorities in each state also were disenfranchised by gerrymandering.
This brings us to Congress, which is gerrymandered in different ways. The United States was created out of an agreement among 13 sovereign nations, each of which wanted influence in the resultant central government.
But they also understood that fairness required some approximation of population representation.
Thus became the Senate, which dramatically was gerrymandered in favor of the least populous states (two Senators per state), and the House, which also was gerrymandered in favor of smaller states, but less so.
The purpose of favoring less-populated states was to prevent the larger populations of urban areas to dominate the tiny towns and rural areas, i.e “fairness” to farmers but “unfairness” to city dwellers.
The Senate is outrageously gerrymandered, with two people representing the 39 million Democratic majority in California having equal voices with the two people representing the 590 thousand Republican majority in Wyoming — 66 to 1.
Add that unfairness to each Senator’s ability to filibuster, and you have the U.S. Senate as the “home of unfairness” to the nth degree, a harmful anachronism of the original 13 colonies.
Even our courts are gerrymandered, with judges selected by the dominant political parties and with grossly unfair money bail favoring the wealthy over the rest.
In summary, though Americans like to believe that we live in a democracy, or at least something resembling a democracy, we don’t.
We also don’t live in a republic, which, at minimum, requires that we choose our representatives. The vast majority of us don’t even choose our President.
Finally, the U.S. Supeme Court determined money is free speech, so the rich are entitled to more free speech than the rest. That, and by trashing voting equality laws, the Supreme Court helped elect a billionaire to be President.
The most accurate description of America is “plutocracy,” a government run by the rich. Enjoy your servitude.
Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
The single most important problems in economics involve the excessive income/wealth/power Gaps between the rich and the rest.
Wide Gaps negatively affect poverty, health and longevity, education, housing, law and crime, war, leadership, ownership, bigotry, supply and demand, taxation, GDP, international relations, scientific advancement, the environment, human motivation and well-being, and virtually every other issue in economics.
Implementation of The Ten Steps To Prosperity can narrow the Gaps:
Ten Steps To Prosperity:
1. ELIMINATE FICA (Ten Reasons to Eliminate FICA )
Although the article lists 10 reasons to eliminate FICA, there are two fundamental reasons:
*FICA is the most regressive tax in American history, widening the Gap by punishing the low and middle-income groups, while leaving the rich untouched, and
*The federal government, being Monetarily Sovereign, neither needs nor uses FICA to support Social Security and Medicare.
2. FEDERALLY FUNDED MEDICARE — PARTS A, B & D, PLUS LONG TERM CARE — FOR EVERYONE (H.R. 676, Medicare for All )
This article addresses the questions:
*Does the economy benefit when the rich can afford better health care than can the rest of Americans?
*Aside from improved health care, what are the other economic effects of “Medicare for everyone?”
*How much would it cost taxpayers?
*Who opposes it?”
3. PROVIDE AN ANNUAL ECONOMIC BONUS TO EVERY MAN, WOMAN AND CHILD IN AMERICA, AND/OR EVERY STATE, A PER CAPITA ECONOMIC BONUS (The JG (Jobs Guarantee) vs the GI (Guaranteed Income) vs the EB) Or institute a reverse income tax.
This article is the fifth in a series about direct financial assistance to Americans:
Why Modern Monetary Theory’s Employer of Last Resort is a bad idea. Sunday, Jan 1 2012
MMT’s Job Guarantee (JG) — “Another crazy, rightwing, Austrian nutjob?” Thursday, Jan 12 2012
Why Modern Monetary Theory’s Jobs Guarantee is like the EU’s euro: A beloved solution to the wrong problem. Tuesday, May 29 2012
“You can’t fire me. I’m on JG” Saturday, Jun 2 2012
Economic growth should include the “bottom” 99.9%, not just the .1%, the only question being, how best to accomplish that. Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) favors giving everyone a job. Monetary Sovereignty (MS) favors giving everyone money. The five articles describe the pros and cons of each approach.
4. FREE EDUCATION (INCLUDING POST-GRAD) FOR EVERYONEFive reasons why we should eliminate school loans
Monetarily non-sovereign State and local governments, despite their limited finances, support grades K-12. That level of education may have been sufficient for a largely agrarian economy, but not for our currently more technical economy that demands greater numbers of highly educated workers.
Because state and local funding is so limited, grades K-12 receive short shrift, especially those schools whose populations come from the lowest economic groups. And college is too costly for most families.
An educated populace benefits a nation, and benefitting the nation is the purpose of the federal government, which has the unlimited ability to pay for K-16 and beyond.
5. SALARY FOR ATTENDING SCHOOL
Even were schooling to be completely free, many young people cannot attend, because they and their families cannot afford to support non-workers. In a foundering boat, everyone needs to bail, and no one can take time off for study.
If a young person’s “job” is to learn and be productive, he/she should be paid to do that job, especially since that job is one of America’s most important.
6. ELIMINATE CORPORATE TAXES
Corporations themselves exist only as legalities. They don’t pay taxes or pay for anything else. They are dollar-transferring machines. They transfer dollars from customers to employees, suppliers, shareholders and the government (the later having no use for those dollars).
Any tax on corporations reduces the amount going to employees, suppliers and shareholders, which diminishes the economy. Ultimately, all corporate taxes come around and reappear as deductions from your personal income.
7. INCREASE THE STANDARD INCOME TAX DEDUCTION, ANNUALLY. (Refer to this.) Federal taxes punish taxpayers and harm the economy. The federal government has no need for those punishing and harmful tax dollars. There are several ways to reduce taxes, and we should evaluate and choose the most progressive approaches.
Cutting FICA and corporate taxes would be a good early step, as both dramatically affect the 99%. Annual increases in the standard income tax deduction, and a reverse income tax also would provide benefits from the bottom up. Both would narrow the Gap.
8. TAX THE VERY RICH (THE “.1%) MORE, WITH HIGHER PROGRESSIVE TAX RATES ON ALL FORMS OF INCOME. (TROPHIC CASCADE)
There was a time when I argued against increasing anyone’s federal taxes. After all, the federal government has no need for tax dollars, and all taxes reduce Gross Domestic Product, thereby negatively affecting the entire economy, including the 99.9%.
But I have come to realize that narrowing the Gap requires trimming the top. It simply would not be possible to provide the 99.9% with enough benefits to narrow the Gap in any meaningful way. Bill Gates reportedly owns $70 billion. To get to that level, he must have been earning $10 billion a year. Pick any acceptable Gap (1000 to 1?), and the lowest paid American would have to receive $10 million a year. Unreasonable.
9. FEDERAL OWNERSHIP OF ALL BANKS (Click The end of private banking and How should America decide “who-gets-money”?)
Banks have created all the dollars that exist. Even dollars created at the direction of the federal government, actually come into being when banks increase the numbers in checking accounts. This gives the banks enormous financial power, and as we all know, power corrupts — especially when multiplied by a profit motive.
Although the federal government also is powerful and corrupted, it does not suffer from a profit motive, the world’s most corrupting influence.
10. INCREASE FEDERAL SPENDING ON THE MYRIAD INITIATIVES THAT BENEFIT AMERICA’S 99.9% (Federal agencies)Browse the agencies. See how many agencies benefit the lower- and middle-income/wealth/ power groups, by adding dollars to the economy and/or by actions more beneficial to the 99.9% than to the .1%.
Save this reference as your primer to current economics. Sadly, much of the material is not being taught in American schools, which is all the more reason for you to use it.
The Ten Steps will grow the economy, and narrow the income/wealth/power Gap between the rich and you.