Archive for the “General” Category

What is a Republic?

A Republic is a representative democracy where citizens elect representatives to pass legislation to govern the nation, establishing the rules of law. The people are the sovereign and their representatives should represent the people. In the great experiment of the United States, over the centuries, we have begun to drift from the original representative democracy to where the representatives more represent corporations and moneyed interests.

In the United States we also elect a President to execute the laws passed by our representatives. The President is NOT a representative of the people.

I submit some suggestions to improve the Republic.

1) Each Representative will represent no more than 100,000 citizens. The current constitution sets a lower limit of 30,000 citizens per representative, but no upper limit.

2) There will be 6 Senators elected from each state. Each Senatorial election will select the top three vote-getters on the ballot to be a Senator from that state, with 1/3 of the Senate being replaced every two years.

3) No Congress critter may serve consecutive terms in the same office, i.e. Representative or Senator. (If someone wanted to be a professional pol, they could go on a run of Rep, Sen, Rep, Sen, Rep, and serve 18 consecutive years in Congress.)

4) Federal Judicial appointments are not for life but will end after 20 years on the bench or when the Justice turns 70 years of age or by impeachment.

5) Every 24 years, the citizens will vote on whether to retain the current Constitution. A majority vote will retain the current Constitution. A Constitutional Convention will be called in the event of a failure to retain.

6) The Electoral College will be disbanded. The President and Vice-President will be elected by citizens in a direct election.

 

This was inspired by an episode of The Thomas Jefferson Hour.

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I have started this Low-carb diet and am using a food journal to keep track of my daily intake. My goal is to stay under 40 net carbs a day; under 2000 calories per day. That give me about 1800 calories to be made up with fat and protein (and alcohol but I am avoiding the temptation). So far so good.

One of the other nutrients I am interested in tracking is my potassium intake. But it is very hard to find the nutrient data for potassium, starting with the actual amount of potassium an adult is supposed to ingest each day. 4700 mg seems to be the recommended amount, but I also see references to 3500 mg as a recommended level on food labeling so I am a bit confused. I know there is a lot of potassium floating around in meats and vegetables, so I should be getting lots, but how much? Either way, I have a hard time finding the potassium level in the food I am eating since it is not a required nutrient on the US food labels.

I have been taking a potassium supplement because I sometimes get cramps from exertion. At the time I started this I didn’t realize the recommended daily allowance is 3500 mg and the recommended daily intake is 4700 mg  – wait, the recommended daily intake hasn’t been established for potassium. The supplement is 99 mg – 3% of RDA – what sort of supplement is that? And then I found out that high potassium levels contribute to lowering high blood pressure! which I have! I definitely want a better handle on potassium in my diet.  From what I have been able to extrapolate so far, I seem to be consuming between 1000 and 2000 mg of potassium daily. No wonder I get muscle spasms.

Open Request to Food Providers: Even if you are not required to put the Potassium level on the food label itself, could you, at least, put it on your website? Along with all the other micro-nutrients that are needed in a complete diet, e.g. magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, phosphorus…

It would be greatly appreciated. Also on the web page, put in the numbers for the entire container, not just for per serving. If I am using a 1 lb package of Italian Sausage in a recipe, I don’t need a breakdown of the individual servings, especially if they are “about 2.5 per package”. I am using the entire package, give me the package totals.

Well, back to burrowing into nutrition details. Maybe I shall uncover some more Potassium sources.

 

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I have, in the past year or so, been using Facebook as my main commenting tool. As the recent takedown of Jim Wright’s 9-11 posting demonstrated, Facebook is not a reliable place to post and share information, especially if some trolls get upset. So I will try to use my blog site < exemplia gratia > to originate my commentary and cross-post it to Facebook and Live Journal. Oh, I have a Google+ page as well.  I will make replies to the Facebook comments in Facebook, but it makes sense that if I want to make a comment that I should originate it in a place where I have some control.

Also, in my never-ending quest  to find a way to make the strike-through character a ‘/’ instead of ‘-‘, I have found an answer. Libre Office lets you change the strike-through character! Now to see if it can be copied out –

StrikethroughStrike-through

Nope

 

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Some different ideas are kicking around and I need to get them down to develop in more detail.

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Have the individual states issue licenses for firearms. Basically, everyone/anyone can get a license. The states can set some minimal requirements such as training on safe firearm usage from a recognized trainer, such as military, police, scouting, gun club, etc. The licenses can be done in classes, such as shotgun, rifle, handgun, automatic, etc. much as DMV will give motorcycle, standard, chauffeur, and the different weight class truck driving licenses. Licenses may be revoked for felony convictions, judicial orders and similar situations.

In order to buy a firearm, you just have to show a license that supports that class of firearm. The seller can do a quick check to see that the license hasn’t been revoked and away you go.  And you have to show the license to buy the ammunition for that class of firearm.

This all goes back to the well-regulated militia phrase of the Second Amendment. Let the states decree that all firearm license holders are members of the militia and let them regulate as they see fit.

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20% across the board tax on all income directed to the Social Security and Medicare.  If you have a job, the 20% is collected as a payroll tax. If you are collecting non-wage income, like dividends, rents, royalties, etc, the 20% can be deducted by the dispenser. No matter what your income level, you pay the 20%. What you get for that is a retirement plan and healthcare. Social Security and Medicare go off-budget at the Federal level. Congress can maintain oversight of the Trust Funds running these systems, but that is about it.

States, private companies and insurance companies can get out of the basic healthcare business.  Every citizen gets access to basic healthcare. Employers can match the payroll tax.

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After the initial 20% tax on all income, there will be a Personal Income deduction per household equal to the median household, currently ~$50K. I am also tempted to adjust this to the Median Household Income for the Metropolitan Statistical Area you reside in.  Need to look at that in more depth. Single member households may use the 4-member household Poverty Level for their MSA .

The main idea here is to give everyone a large deductible. No itemizing. If you want to give to charities, buy houses, pay mortgages, go to school, go for it. There is no tax advantage or incentive either way.

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As far as our debt and deficit is concerned, Congress shall be mandated to collect revenues to cover their budget. In addition, Congress will include paying back 5% of the deficit each year as part of the budget. We can give Congress some wiggle-room such as the 5% doesn’t need to be included under certain economic conditions, such as the ones we are currently under. Also, in the event of a natural disaster that wasn’t originally budgeted, the 5% deficit payback can be diverted to cover those costs.  If Congress and the President declare a national emergency, then all restrictions are off.

In order for Congress to meet their revenue mandate, they must set a tax rate on all incomes above the deductible that will collect the desired revenue for that year.

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1 Representative per 100,000 citizens.

6 Senators per State. Senatorial elections will continue by the classes as they are now, but the three top vote-getters in each election will each  become a Senator.

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No one elected to Congress may serve consecutive terms in the same office.

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Any compensation paid to individuals in excess of the salary of the President shall be counted as Corporate profit

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Make the corporate tax rate something like 20% which must paid, at a minimum, on the profits reported to shareholders. – No deductions, no incentives, no corporate welfare

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$1 tax on each transaction that hold a share for less than 60 seconds. Taxes raised this way go to an SEC trust fund to prosecute the people gaming the system.

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Bank, or any Corporate, Executives go to jail when their bank, or company, breaks the law or agrees to settlement without admitting guilt.

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Pony Service Announcement! by ~Nimaru on deviantART.

How difficult is it to link back to the source?

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Olympics 2012: branding ‘police’ to protect sponsors’ exclusive rights | Sport | The Guardian.

I think the best way to protect the brand of the Olympics is to just ignore them. Someone tell me September if anything interesting happened.

 

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Colorado – List View.

We have a few to choose from…

 

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Free entry to national parks starting Saturday | national, park, free – Colorado Springs Gazette, CO.

 

This sounds interesting. And I think we are expecting reasonable weather next week.

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The real criminals in the Tarek Mehanna case – Salon.com.

A very good Sentencing Statement. It  should not surprise us that we Americans forget the ideals that founded our country and that we have become what we  revolted against over 200 years ago. It seems to happen to most nations.

 

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I have been reading David Graeber’s Debt: the first 5,000 years and find it very interesting. The initial question posed is “Surely one has to pay one’s debts.” And from there Graeber looks back 5,000 years from an anthropologist’s point of view at debt, credit, money and economies.

I learned many variations on ‘accepted truths’ . Economists like to start the history of economics with the early human societies developing barter, then money, then credit. Adam Smith in Wealth of Nations started this paradigm and it has been repeated by the following generations. This is used to establish a ‘natural order’ of economics. Yet, the anthropologist finds that early societies built their economies on a credit based  exchange of commodities. Before credit it may have been favor based exchanges. And with credit comes debt and some manner of quantifying debt. It doesn’t have to be money; it may be tokens or tallies or other symbolic measures.

Eventually money, coinage, is developed – apparently simultaneously in Greece, India and China. Not only are states able to demand their taxes in coin, they can use the coin to pay their armies rather than provision them with commodities out of their treasuries.  This puts the coinage into the general population which lets them pay their taxes.

The philosophers start discussing the abstracts concept of symbols and reality, since money isn’t really real, virtual materialism.

Religions grow and start to collect and hoard the coins and start preaching different concepts of sin and debt and obligation and guilt.  Somehow they are all tied together. Different religions approach debt in different ways.  Do you owe a debt to your forebears for being there? Do you owe a debt to your parents or your community just for being there? Do you owe a debt incurred by your parents? Unto how many generations?

There are discussions of human economies and commercial economies. Contrast the unique value of an individual with the anonymous  value of a hunk of metal.

There is some exploration of the nature of the relationship between debtor and creditor. As long as is debt one can not be equal to the creditor. Even more interesting is the situation where a debt paid in full implies the two are equal and that just will not do. Then societal rules can be stretched, twisted and strained to prevent the equality from happening.

One item I found interesting was the relationship of the Chinese need for silver – to keep its coinage system working since they didn’t want to use paper money – to  the European invasion of the Americas.  And there is the oft-repeated theme of armies enslaving people to work in the mines to get the mineral wealth to pay the armies. Seems to have happened quite a bit once they decided to start paying armies in coin.

A market involves using money to go from one commodity to another. Money is just an intermediary. With capitalism, money is used to make money. Money makes money through interest and debt. This is an ever spiraling growth of that will collapse on itself and probably take society with it. Graeber’s discussion of the last 40 years is very interesting and gives me pause as to what we might experience over the next 30-40 years.  Given 5,000 years of history bearing down on us, I don’t think we can be agile enough to avoid a heavy shock.

Graeber shows that throughout history, human societies rebel against onerous debt. They have a Grand Jubilee and reset the meter. I don’t know if I want to see it happen or not.

I highly recommend Debt: the first 5,000 years for a thoughtful read.

 

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