Why you and Congress love gerrymandering Friday, Jul 14 2017 

Twitter: @rodgermitchell; Search #monetarysovereignty
Facebook: Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

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It takes only two things to keep people in chains: The ignorance of the oppressed and the treachery of their leaders..
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To “gerrymander” is “to divide 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.” (Dictionary.com)

You hate gerrymandering, right? It’s unfair. It denies the voting public the right to select its democratic representation.

Done “right,” gerrymandering can give a few thousand voters the same voting powers as a million voters.Image result for gerrymandering

Such a power ratio seems unfair and undemocratic on its face — except that is exactly how it is done in the U.S. Senate, the so-called “upper” body of Congress (for a reason other than prestige or power).

The U.S. Senate is one of the most gerrymandered legislative bodies in America. The 800+ thousand people in Wyoming have the same representation and voting power as do the 40 million people in California. How fair and democratic is that?

And that difference also is reflected in the way we elect the President, which is why the current President of the United States won despite losing the popular election by 3+ million votes — more than the total population of the least-populated 18 states.

So yes, gerrymandering is an anti-democracy scam we all hate because it unfairly negates the votes of millions of people. And, it is exactly what the Constitution prescribes — for the Senate and for the Presidential election.

I live in Illinois, a traditionally blue state. My Presidential vote is meaningless. It will have no effect on the next election. Whether I vote Republican, Democrat or 3rd party, all Illinois electoral votes will go to the Democratic candidate.

In short, I have no Presidential vote. It has been gerrymandered away from me.

Now, that we accept the principle of gerrymandering for some of our government, let us examine our outrage for House of Representative gerrymandering.

The research that convinced SCOTUS to take the Wisconsin gerrymandering case, explained
Updated by Nicholas Stephanopoulos Jul 11, 2017 (Nicholas Stephanopoulos is a professor of law at the University of Chicago Law School. He is also one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs in Whitford.)

In June, the Supreme Court agreed to hear its first partisan gerrymandering case in more than a decade. This case, Gill v. Whitford, involves a challenge to the district plan that Wisconsin passed for its state house after the 2010 Census.

The case also involves a quantitative measure of gerrymandering — the efficiency gap — that has created a bit of a buzz.

The efficiency gap is, in fact, a simple and intuitive measure of gerrymandering, and I’ll explain why in a minute.

For more than three decades, the Supreme Court has recognized that severe partisan gerrymandering can violate the Constitution.

(Gerrymandering violates the Constitution in the House and in State “House” elections. Not in the Senate or comparable bodies in the states.)

But until Whitford, not a single federal court had struck down a map on this basis. However, in a 2006 case, five justices expressed interest in statistical metrics that show how a plan benefits (or handicaps) a given party. The efficiency gap is such a metric.

Gerrymandering: Either a party cracks (that is, splits) the other party’s voters among many districts in which their preferred candidates lose by relatively narrow margins.

Or a party packs the other side’s voters into a few districts in which their preferred candidates win by overwhelming margins.

At this point in the article, which I urge you to read, the author describes the statistical methods available to measure the amount of gerrymandering in any state.

This presumably can provide the Supreme Court with what it has been missing: Measures by which it could set standards. (i.e., this amount of gerrymandering is O.K. Anything beyond is unconstitutional.)

Whether the Supreme Court has the political will to apply these measures is another question, entirely.

Professor Jowei Chen used a computer algorithm to create 200 state house maps. They complied with the Constitution’s one person, one vote requirement (because each district had about the same population).

As we said, the Constitution has no such requirement for the Senate. Where is the logic in having the requirement for half of Congress, but not for the other half?

The gerrymandering built into the Senate and the electoral college is a result, first of history. Each of the original 13 colonies was a nation unto itself, jealous of its power. To encourage the smaller (population) colonies to join the Republic, they were given the same voting strength as the larger colonies — in the Senate.

The excuse for continuing the system lies in the myth that the residents of each state have unique characteristics, differentiating them from the residents of other states.

But, while American voters do have unique characteristics — rural vs. urban, religion, race, age, wealth, etc., these characteristics are not marked by state borderlines.

The geographic majority of, for instance, Illinois, is rural, while the population majority is near Chicago. Much of the state more closely resembles Tennessee and Kentucky than the Chicago metropolitan area.

The notion that people in Illinois, as a whole, have individual and unique characteristics simply is not true. Illinois people are as diverse as are the people of the entire nation.

In summary:

If gerrymandering is unfair and unconstitutional, the entire U.S. Senate and the electoral college similarly are unfair and unconstitutional.

What are the solutions? What would make our government more representative of the people’s wills?

The elimination of the electoral college, with the President elected by the voters as a whole?

A merger of the Senate and the House into one deliberative body, with each member representing a given number of geographically adjacent voters?

Both would increase fairness and “one man, one vote” Constitutionality. But, a government body seldom votes to reduce its own power. Any proposed change would be evaluated by members of Congress according to “What’s in it for me, and what’s in it for my party?”

Any sort of redistricting will produce winners and losers, and even the winners will fear to be losers, later. So, Congress will do nothing to reduce gerrymandering.

Even the Supreme Court is not immune to this self-serving stance. I predict that because state voting patterns currently favor the Republicans, the right wing of the court will be much less willing to correct state gerrymandering.

The Court is as much a prisoner of political partisanship as is any Congressional, smoke-filled, deal-making room.

As a result of Whitford, there may evolve some slight tweaks to gerrymandering, but anything that dramatically would affect the outcome of elections is unlikely.

Gerrymandering not only is built into our Constitution but into our fundamental “winner take all” psyche.

One day,  a winner really will take all. Our gerrymandering will deny enough people their vote to produce a full-fledged dictatorship, from which escape is rare and agonizing.

It could happen sooner than you might expect.

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
Monetary Sovereignty

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THOUGHTS

•All we have are partial solutions; the best we can do is try.

•Those, who do not understand the differences between Monetary Sovereignty and monetary non-sovereignty, do not understand economics.

•Any monetarily NON-sovereign government — be it city, county, state or nation — that runs an ongoing trade deficit, eventually will run out of money no matter how much it taxes its citizens.

•The more federal budgets are cut and taxes increased, the weaker an economy becomes..

•No nation can tax itself into prosperity, nor grow without money growth.

•Cutting federal deficits to grow the economy is like applying leeches to cure anemia.

•A growing economy requires a growing supply of money (GDP = Federal Spending + Non-federal Spending + Net Exports)

•Deficit spending grows the supply of money

•The limit to federal deficit spending is an inflation that cannot be cured with interest rate control. The limit to non-federal deficit spending is the ability to borrow.

•Until the 99% understand the need for federal deficits, the upper 1% will rule.

•Progressives think the purpose of government is to protect the poor and powerless from the rich and powerful. Conservatives think the purpose of government is to protect the rich and powerful from the poor and powerless.

•The single most important problem in economics is the Gap between the rich and the rest.

•Austerity is the government’s method for widening the Gap between the rich and the rest.

•Everything in economics devolves to motive, and the motive is the Gap between the rich and the rest..

MONETARY SOVEREIGNTY

Is the House of Representatives obsolete? Friday, Jun 9 2017 

Twitter: @rodgermitchell; Search #monetarysovereignty
Facebook: Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

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It takes only two things to keep people in chains: The ignorance of the oppressed and the treachery of their leaders..
………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

The House of Representatives long has stood on questionable philosophical ground, but lately, it has been acting like the bad kid in the playground.

The fact that Representatives serve 2-year terms enshrines an “always-running” mentality, providing little time or inclination for intelligent lawmaking.

In the House, slogans pass for communicating and catchphrases pass for thought. Representatives spend most of their waking hours dialing for dollars, and making deals to keep challengers out.

Image result for paul ryan

Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House

This sophomoric existence has manifested in “quick-and-dirty” legislative attempts. The House moral seems to be, “Let’s get something passed — anything — no matter how illegal, immoral, or inane, then turn the problem over the the ‘parents’ of Congress, the Senate, to do the real thinking.”

Consider the House’s disgraceful “repeal & replace of Romneycare er, ah, Obamacare:

House Republicans have passed their ambitious plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, sending the measure to the Senate, where it is expected to be significantly revised. (ABC News’ John Parkinson and Mary Bruce contributed to this report. )

The House passed a bill they knew was no good, sent it to the Senate to be “significantly revised,” then crowed about what a great job they did.

Following the House vote, House Republicans celebrated with a press conference at the White House Rose Garden with President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price. Trump touted the bill as a “great plan” even though they got “no support from the other party.”

They also got no support from the majority of the nation, who found the elimination of 24 million of Americans from health care coverage to be morally and economically repugnant.

(Trump) congratulated and thanked House Speaker Paul Ryan and praised House Republicans for coming together. “What we have is something very, very incredibly well-crafted,” Trump said of the bill.

So well crafted, even the Republican-dominated Senate couldn’t stand the stench of it.

Trump added. “As much as we’ve come up with a really incredible health care plan, this has brought the Republican Party together. We’re going to get this finished.”

They got it “finished,” all right — finished and dumped, never again to see the light.

And on Thursday night, he tweeted, “It was a GREAT day for the United States of America! This is a great plan that is a repeal & replace of ObamaCare. Make no mistake about it.”

If this was a great plan, one wonders how miserable a plan would have to be for Trump to consider it bad.

“It’s going to be an unbelievable victory when we get it through the Senate and there’s so much spirit there,” Trump said.

“Unbelievable” is the appropriate word for Trump’s announcement. Few believed it.

Republicans, who have been promising to repeal and replace Obamacare for seven years, said they planned on keeping their promise to constituents.

And that is all they cared about, keeping the promise of “repeal & replace.” So, having created a pile of dung, and patting themselves on the back, the House held its nose and decided to create more dung — another ill-considered “repeal & replace” — this time, of Dodd-Frank.

House votes to kill Dodd-Frank. Now what?
by Donna Borak @donnaborak

House lawmakers effectively gutted the Dodd-Frank financial regulations that were put in place during the Obama administration.

The bill passed despite vehement objections by Democrats to preserve the sweeping law aimed at preventing another financial crisis and protecting American consumers.

The bill would give the president the power to fire the heads of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), a consumer watchdog agency created under Dodd-Frank, and the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, at any time for any — or no — reason.

Remember, it was malfeasance by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, along with the banks, that led to the great recession. The CFPB was designed to prevent that malfeasance.

It also gives Congress purview over the CFPB’s budget, meaning lawmakers could defund the agency entirely.

The GOP proposal would also bar the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. from overseeing the so-called living will process, which requires banks to write up plans on how they would safely be unwound in the event of a collapse.

Steny Hoyer, the House minority whip said the bill would repeat recent history and put Americans at risk of losing millions by taking “referees off the field.”

Minority lawmakers also argue the bill would gut consumer protections and allow banks to make risky investments that required taxpayers to come to the rescue of the nation’s largest financial institutions almost a decade earlier.

Now the bill’s destiny will be in the hands of the Senate.

Those who closely follow the debate believe there’s no chance the bill would pass the Senate as is. Rather, they expect the upper chamber to advance a separate regulatory relief bill of their own.

By killing Dodd-Frank, the House would create the same “Banks, do whatever the hell you want” situation that led to the Great Recession of 2008. Apparently, nothing has been learned.

Why did the bad kids of the House do it? Because they expected the adults of the Senate to step in and clean up the mess.

The motto of the House seems to be: “Pass anything, then get back to soliciting campaign funds. Let the Senate fix it.”

How is the House designed to fail?

  1. The abovementioned 2-year term, which puts Representatives into an everlasting election cycle, leaving little time or energy for actual legislating.
  2. Gerrymandering, which almost guarantees re-election of incumbents, which gives Representatives little motivation for legislating.

The 2-year term and the population-based representation were supposed to make the House more responsive to the people, when compared to the Senate with its 6-year term and state-based representation.

The opposite has occurred:

Reelection Rates Over the Years

Few things in life are more predictable than the chances of an incumbent member of the U.S. House of Representatives winning reelection. With wide name recognition, and usually an insurmountable advantage in campaign cash, House incumbents typically have little trouble holding onto their seats

Senate races still overwhelmingly favor the incumbent, but not by as reliable a margin as House races.

Thus, House Representatives, lacking the time, energy, and motive to legislate in any sensible manner or to respond to constituents, has become an anachronism, virtually worthless — no, less than worthless —  an impediment.

It repeatedly vandalizes the legislative process by producing amateurish, noxious bills it knows cannot be passed, then steps back to let the Senate scrub the walls of their graffiti.

The House either should be eliminated or repaired. I suggest two fixes:

  1. Institute a 4-year term to coincide with the Presidential election. This not only would allow more time for legislating and for challenges to House seats, but it would save election costs for the states.
  2. Institute strict rules and definitions to reduce, as much as mathematically feasible, Gerrymandering.

These fixes would help return the House to being a “for the people” organization.

Or, we should just get rid of the House altogether, and let the Senate officially take over.

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
Monetary Sovereignty

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THOUGHTS

•All we have are partial solutions; the best we can do is try.

•Those, who do not understand the differences between Monetary Sovereignty and monetary non-sovereignty, do not understand economics.

•Any monetarily NON-sovereign government — be it city, county, state or nation — that runs an ongoing trade deficit, eventually will run out of money no matter how much it taxes its citizens.

•The more federal budgets are cut and taxes increased, the weaker an economy becomes..

•No nation can tax itself into prosperity, nor grow without money growth.

•Cutting federal deficits to grow the economy is like applying leeches to cure anemia.

•A growing economy requires a growing supply of money (GDP = Federal Spending + Non-federal Spending + Net Exports)

•Deficit spending grows the supply of money

•The limit to federal deficit spending is an inflation that cannot be cured with interest rate control. The limit to non-federal deficit spending is the ability to borrow.

•Until the 99% understand the need for federal deficits, the upper 1% will rule.

•Progressives think the purpose of government is to protect the poor and powerless from the rich and powerful. Conservatives think the purpose of government is to protect the rich and powerful from the poor and powerless.

•The single most important problem in economics is the Gap between the rich and the rest.

•Austerity is the government’s method for widening the Gap between the rich and the rest.

•Everything in economics devolves to motive, and the motive is the Gap between the rich and the rest..

MONETARY SOVEREIGNTY

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