Amateur Hour

A while ago, I was driving back to Indiana from the place of my birth and America’s most dysfunctional city, Chicago. As thoughts of Greek-style pensions for public employees, exorbitant property taxes, and sky high murder rates were passing through my consciousness, my car began emitting a strange noise on the expressway. It grew louder, and my stomach sank. It was a flat. The car wobbled onto a nearby exit ramp, and I slowed to the shoulder cursing my lousy luck.

Thankfully I had just renewed my Triple-A membership (after debating to myself whether or not the fee was worth it), so my luck held in the end. The incident led me to ponder the fact that it would not have occurred to me in my distress to try calling a real estate developer, a neurosurgeon, or a former CEO for help. That is to say, anyone lacking a background in auto repair.

This came to mind, of course, because a fair number of Americans now appear to be seriously considering as candidates for the highest public office in the land no fewer than three individuals with no experience in politics or government. To be fair, Americans have a long and rich tradition of disliking and distrusting professional politicians. They’ve been justified. Politics in America’s early days was a dirty business, with intense competition among elites to shape the institutions and future of the nation. Friendships forged during the Revolution were shattered as political ambition and the fruits of political privilege drove former allies like John Adams and Thomas Jefferson into pitched electoral combat for the presidency.

The 19th century was hardly a time of deeply honorable or “decent” politics. State politics, in particular, during this period were typically corrupt and disreputable. Sharp sectional conflicts over slavery, the tariff, and westward expansion hardly gave politics a good reputation among the public at large or the community leaders of the growing United States. The Grant administration’s problems occurred in a string of national embarrassments for the ruling American class.

Writing at the close of that century, Mark Twain, who was a strong backer of President Grant’s, came up with a bon mot that nevertheless rings true: “there is no distinctly native American criminal class save Congress.”

The following century saw much of the same. The Teapot Dome scandal rocked the nation in the 1920s. Political machines dominated local politics in the nation’s growing cities. Tammany Hall ran New York, the Pendergast machine ran Kansas City, later on the Daley machine ran Chicago. All showed favoritism based on the corrupt political practices that solidified their hold on power. While the Progressive movement claimed to be animated by a desire to “clean up” American politics, their innovations only served a different group of interests.  The disastrous policies that led to Vietnam, as well as Watergate and Iran Contra, only seemed to harden public cynicism about politics and sap any residual trust that the successful prosecution of World War II might have yielded.

This checkered history explains much of the political outsider’s appeal. Woodrow Wilson’s career, first as New Jersey’s Governor and later as President, was based on his apparent professional skills and intellect developed outside of the tainted world of politics. (That Newark Democratic Party boss James Smith was key to Wilson’s rise is rarely mentioned.) President Eisenhower was a war hero. But the additional fact that he had never held public office must only have enhanced his attractions for voters tired of political business as usual.

While Donald Trump, Carly Fiorina, Ben Carson, Ross Perot, Ralph Nader, and Herman Cain have been presidential candidates in several different parties and have had distinct career trajectories and diverse agendas, all traded on the fact that they were not of the professional political class. They were therefore clean, they said. The implied contrast is with career politicians like Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton, who left the White House shrouded in scandals.

This raises questions: Is the problem that the people we put in are defective—or that the exercise of the office drags down the character of otherwise reasonably good people? Do we need to be governed by amateur politicians precisely because angels are unavailable, to paraphrase James Madison? Would a successful business person such as Fiorina or Trump be a better politician than someone who came up through the political ranks?

Prior to the great American experiment in self-government, average people did not face these questions. Monarchy did not allow for input from the public at large. Some monarchs were good, many were not. Some stole with impunity from the public coffers while others refrained (at least somewhat). Monarchs were not totally unconstrained; the political power of other elites, institutionalized religion, and the risk of rebellion impinged on them. They also relied on bureaucrats, who in the end retain the most sway over policymaking in all forms of government.

But as market capitalism and democracy have emerged throughout the world in the 20th and 21st centuries, we have seemed to recognize the importance of entrepreneurship and individual values in the creation of wealth and freedom. We have come to respect successful business people, even to the point of believing they might be better as political leaders in managing the economy, or at least, better than professional politicians.

Caution is in order, though. We must recognize, first, that the most consistent way to analyze politics is to notice that while individuals can make a difference at the margins, institutions and the formal political exchanges that occur are more determinative of what the political landscape of any country will look like.

An example from fiction may help. Consider the mythical Frank Underwood, Kevin Spacey’s Machiavellian creature in the Netflix show House of Cards. Spacey and the show’s writers make it seem as if Underwood’s cunning and vast experience make him a “successful” player in the game of Washington politics. He routinely outmaneuvers the “amateur,” a businessman named Raymond Tusk (played by Gerald McRaney), who angles for special treatment from the administration for his investments in China.

But are Underwood’s handy victories over a lobbyist true to life? Nobel prize-winning economist James Buchanan based his career on a novel assumption. He argued that whether people are office-holders, voters, or government bureaucrats, they all act in their self-interest just as people do when they are in markets. Voters vote in their self-interest. Politicians want to win elections. Bureaucrats try to protect their jobs and grow their agencies. Buchanan argued that even people in government who aren’t corrupt or immoral are still constrained in their ability to affect profound reform and change, both by the nature of politics, and by the rules that different political systems enforce.

So what matters is not whether the person gaining the most votes is benevolent or a heel. In order to have good government, we need to align the incentives with how people really act to get real improvements in the nature of governance, and this is true for any system, democratic or otherwise. This was, of course, the same goal James Madison had during the Philadelphia debates over the Constitution.

This brings us to a second question, do the non-professional backgrounds of Mr. Trump, Ms. Fiorina, or Dr. Carson suggest they would be more successful in enacting meaningful policy changes or pursuing and achieving profound reforms in the very nature of the American political system?

Another reason putting in a politically clean CEO is of doubtful value can be found in the work of the great moral philosopher and economist, Adam Smith. The author of The Wealth of Nations knew quite a bit about the workings of markets and exchange, but he was also observant about society and politics. In fact he was deeply concerned about government-granted privileges that came to certain commercial entities in his time (to the East India Company, for example). Like James Buchanan and Madison, he worried that business people were in a strong position to capture the power of government to serve themselves or their friends.

The current candidates are fine Smithian specimens. Mr. Trump has for decades given hundreds of thousands of dollars to candidates of both major parties in order to gain access to political decisions to aid his business. Ms. Fiorina lobbied government to help her company, Hewlett Packard. There is no reason that businesspeople or successful professionals would act remarkably differently than those who have had careers in the public sector.

A real estate developer might provide interesting insights into the empty plot of land you are staring at while you are stranded with a flat tire. But unless that person is willing to dig through your trunk, pull out the jack, and get his hands dirty, she won’t be useful in fixing your tire. That job is probably still one for the professionals.

Reader Discussion

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on October 02, 2015 at 09:26:42 am

This is a fine essay, and I do not wish to diminish it. That said, the opening gambit elicited sadness. It does not require automotive expertise to change a tire. There was a time when it was a matter of pride for young American men--and quite a few young women too--to learn this simple, albeit tedious, chore.

I am not sure quite what it means that a bit of skill and know-how that used to be common is now something reserved to a specialized class of people. It does seem, though, that the culture of individual autonomy and self reliance we celebrated 85 years ago as "rugged individualism " is increasingly replaced by a culture of interdependence and decreased autonomy. And that in turn leads one to wonder, is "modern liberalism" cause, or effect?

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Kevin R. Hardwick
on October 02, 2015 at 09:47:42 am

"They think the way you solve things is by electing the right people. It’s nice to elect the right people, but that isn’t how you solve things. The way you solve things is by making it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing."

Milton Friedman

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on October 02, 2015 at 10:33:52 am

Noble as your work may be among your peers and followers, I'm concerned about the harmful traditions and perpetrators you extol. For example, James Madison, in Memorial & Remonstrance, June 20, 1785, wrote, “Before any man can be considerd as a member of Civil Society, he must be considered as a subject of the Governour of the Universe." IMO, Madison expresses the tyranny on which the law is built.

Madison read Machiavelli, and strategically used The Prince, Chapter XI (www.constitution.org/mac/prince11.htm ). I paraphrase: state-church partners can live any way they want and do anything to the people and the people will neither leave nor rebel. These words from 1513 dominate governance of this country to this day. Religious competition should be put aside for civic safety. There should be no lawsuits based on religion, a private practice.

George Washington's farewell address of June 8, 1783, suggests that he wanted an epically fresh start in governance (perhaps putting behind Edmund Burke's defense of both common law and Protestantism). His four pillars say nothing of religion or common law but speak of the people taking charge. He and allies produced a godless, draft-constitution in 1787. But the Chapter XI Machiavellians turned the tables by requiring a Bill of Rights as a condition for ratification on June 21, 1788. Madison’s state, Virginia, tagged along a month later. The first Congress sealed the reinstatement of Chapter XI Machiavellianism in late April and early May, 1789, hiring chaplains to deify Congress with legislative prayer. Fate was sealed until now with ratification of the Bill of Rights (and completion of the negotiated constitution for the USA) on December 15, 1791.

In Greece v Galloway, 2014, we are told that legislative prayer is for legislators, and if citizens don't like it, they can step out of the room during the ceremony. We the People of the United States is clearly a divided entity, with those in power holding nothing but disdain for those who would like to collaborate for the achievable civic combination no-harm personal liberty and domestic goodwill—PL&DG. We dub them A Civic People of the United States. We think 70% of inhabitants would like living in civic morality.

As we saw with George W. Bush's invasion of Iraq, under the influence of his god, it really does not matter who is president—a civic people suffer. As long as a civic people tolerate Chapter XI Machiavellianism a civic people pay the price of their indolence respecting civic morality. Just as one must earn money to enjoy liberty, one must collaborate for civic morality to enjoy PL&DG. Constitutional scholars could lead the way.

Also, constitutional law scholars could easily lead this nation to the needed amendment of the first amendment. Replace the religion clauses, which protect an institution, with protection of independent thought, a personal duty. Do so for clarity, even though the right to think cannot be denied a person who is authentic. Also, revise it to cover all three branches, not Congress alone. (That’s another GW Bush offense: reading the religion clauses to limit Congress only and creating faith-based policy.)

What's at the heart of the problem is not amateur presidential candidates, but citizens, bemused by Chapter XI Machiavellianism. Citizens neglect their duty to collaborate for civic morality, waiting for religious morals to kick in, knowing in their gut it will never happen.

Constitutional scholars can stop the human travesty: governance of the USA under Chapter XI Machiavellianism.

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Phil Beaver
on October 02, 2015 at 10:38:45 am

There's a great Learn Liberty series on House of Cards at http://bit.ly/1B96ueE and if you don't want to invest the time in the whole series, try "Frank Underwood's Top 3 Lessons for Voters" at http://bit.ly/1ljGjiR.

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Jennifer Thompson
on October 02, 2015 at 15:00:24 pm

The American Republic and it's Constitution were lost when a voting majority of Americans decided that the proper role and function of their government was to solve their social/economic problems. Poverty,healthcare,housing,the economy,crime,drugs,employment,education and a plethora of social/economic problems would be on their way to being solved if only we could vote into office the "right" people to do the job. Tax the productive,set up a bureaucracy,channel the "resources" and all would be fine and well. Except it didn't quite work out that way. The government grew,the bureaucracies became entrenched and multitudes of people were ensconced on the government gravy train yet the problems remained and even got worse.. Less liberty,the enslavement and destruction of the productive,especially of the non-governmental middle class,a lowering of standards of living,a destruction of the purchasing power of our money,enormous,unsustainable national and personal debts and the growth but failure of the American government's answer to solving the problems of the "people." Problems that the people should solve for themselves. Finding and electing the "right" person to "run" the nation is a fools errand. In the end it is best for people to grow up and take responsibility for their own lives and solve their own problems. The only thing that will result by relying on the state will be the throwing away of your liberty for the perceived and false world of security. In the end,sad to say, the majority of the American voters have chosen to vote themselves into serfdom.

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libertarian jerry
on October 02, 2015 at 15:14:55 pm

Kevin, have you changed a tire on the shoulder of a busy expressway? I have. I'll never do it again. It's almost suicidal. There are cars and trucks whizzing by at 55-75 mph, some of them close enough to reach out and touch. Many drivers are under the influence. Many are texting or are otherwise distracted. You want someone with the tools and experience who is paid for the risks involved in that situation.

Times have changed because some of the physical aspects of society have become more complex. Perhaps "modern liberalism" is at least in part an effect of social growth. I did a lot of my growing up on a farm in a rural part of Oregon. I'm very much an individualist. My son is growing up in a city. He spends a lot of time socializing with his many nearby friends and playing video games online with online friends. He will probably be less of an individualist than I am.

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Scott Amorian
on October 02, 2015 at 15:55:26 pm

This essay discusses exactly why I advocate a biased ballot with a negative vote option. People with little or no experience in executive government have no business being there. They are "a disaster," as Trump would call them, in the making. There really is a lot to being an effective president, or senator. Without experience and know-how you get out-of-control situations.

We have the multitude of issues we see coming from Mr Obama's service. He entered office with zero executive experience. Lincoln ran and had little experience as a statesman. He did so at a time when the nation was on the edge of war, and statesmanship would have been highly useful to have in the presidency at the time. We all know how that turned out. Half a million dead. Millions wounded. He ran at a time when those who would lead the call to war said explicitly that if Lincoln won the election that would inevitably lead to war. Lincoln had no place running for president. We celebrate the president he became, not the cupidist who entered office.

A better designed election system would go a long way in preventing these kinds of folks from entering office. That's why a better voting system, one designed to keep underqualified candidates out of office, is one of the essentials for making American government work correctly.

A better ballot would instruct the voter to cast one vote for one candidate who has certain qualifications for office. For example, on the presidential ballot it could instruct the voter to "Select the candidate who has the most governmental executive experience, the most experience with statesmanship, and who is otherwise qualified for the office" or something similar. Since voters are generally honest at the polls, these would be the criteria for basing votes on. This would make it less likely the voter would elect someone just because they like them. This isn't Facebook after all. It's the presidency of the United States of America.

The improved ballot would also have a negative vote option, making it similar to a community vote where the speaker asks the audience, "All for the proposal, raise your hand ... Now all against, raise your hand ..." Except in this case we are asking the audience who is most "for" a single candidate, and who is most "against" another candidate.

The better ballot would also instruct the voter on the "against" vote. "If any candidate lacks the necessary experience, or has obligations to political parties, private financial interests, or foreign nations, has a history of ethical issues, or otherwise lacks the capacity to serve in office, cast a vote against that candidate."

Simple and effective, and easy enough for our lowest common denominator voters.

That would go a very long way towards eliminating corruption and electing more capable candidates.

In the Framer's Constitution, presidents were not supposed be partisan anyway. They were supposed to be above the political fray. An amendment requiring that the president and senators be nonpartisan would be most useful. The "all for-all against" instructional ballot would be the means of enforcing it.

See?! There are ways to fix this.

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Scott Amorian
on October 02, 2015 at 16:43:36 pm

" He ran at a time when those who would lead the call to war said explicitly that if Lincoln won the election that would inevitably lead to war. Lincoln had no place running for president. "

*And the War Came* - yes, and one may argue that it was those very same people who predicted war that, in fact, initiated it. Far from cupidity, Lincoln was in fact rather statesman like even prior to his ascendancy to the Presidency.

As for an amendment requiring that elected officials be non-partisan, all one need to is to consult the many localities where electoral offices are supposedly "non-partisan" such as local / state Judicial offices. How has that worked out? Heck, my heroes, the Black Robes are allegedly non-partisan - we all know how that has worked out.

And in a certain sense, non-partisan representatives would be both dysfunctional and unable to change the course of this nation GIVEN the fact that, as the essayist above asserts (quite correctly, I would add) that it is institutions which are the predominant component of modern government and they are most assuredly partisan - quite liberal to be frank. The role / power / influence of institutions, comprised as they are (were) of statist progressives, a "cadre of experts" with institutional interests of their own ( a Madisonian faction, perhaps) was one of the principal reasons that someone as conservative / traditional as Ronald Reagan was unable to fully correct the course of the Federal Government.

In short, there is neither nobility nor dispassion amongst the bureaucracy. Far better to have a counter-balance to their ideological perspective and policy preferences. (Unfortunately, what passes for the opposition, the GOP, is ineffective (perhaps, willfully so)).

Additionally, far from eliminating problems with voter selection dynamics, the lack of a readily identifiable label (at least one that would actually mean something) would only add to voter confusion and make the cost of voting greater for the average voter (see "The Economics of Democracy"- forget author - but an excellent monograph from 40 years ago). I suspect that what would happen is that we would find a higher incidence of voter preference being determined by a) name recognition, b) less informed / less reasoned voting choices, and c) even greater voter frustration with results and perhaps d) an even lower voter turnout as people begin to feel less able to control who, what policy prescriptions are being enabled by their non-partisan vote and finally an even higher percentage of voters, who being now disassociated from political / philosophical considerations during the electoral process, who are prepared to vote for whoever promises them more goodies.

There is a downside to non-partisanship. As Harry Jaffa argued: political parties may be said to prevent us from declaring war on each other because the (alleged) distinctiveness of the parties allow us to consider peaceful alternatives to civil strife. (Apologies to Jaffa for the bastardization of his wording).

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on October 02, 2015 at 17:10:14 pm

Well, I can debate most of your arguments point by point, but time is short, so I will not.

One thing I will discuss is your general disagreement with the Framers. They believed that it was a good idea to have a President (and Senate) above the political fray. They constructed the Constitution around that idea because they understood that the republic they were forming would not work if the President (and Senate) were so enfrayed. They understood that having a President involved in the fray would be the source of many problems.

You on the other hand seem to believe that the President and Senate should be deeply involved in the fray, even though we observe that the government is a partisan mess, as the Framers anticipated.

On what theory do you believe the Framers' Constitution is so profoundly wrong? I see minor flaws in the details, but you reject its foundation completely.

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Scott Amorian
on October 02, 2015 at 20:35:48 pm

Thank you.

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Phil Beaver
on October 02, 2015 at 21:16:52 pm


Actually, I never made any contention that the Framers wanted the Executive and the Senate to be part of the "fray."

My observations are grounded in what has transpired over the past 2+ centuries. This would include the effects of the Progressive movements ascendancy over the American political scene with a consequent diminution of the peoples ability (and willingness) to govern themselves.

It would be nice (but somewhat fanciful) to imagine the Framers constitution as the operative form of government in today's world. Regrettably, this is simply not so. I only wish it were. To the extent that your argument(s) comprehend the transformative effects / impacts (non-salutary, to my mind) of governmental institutions and the consequent effect on civic and lower tier government organization have had on the ethos or Common Mind of the American people, we are in agreement.

As I said, however, we do not appear to be the same people as those of the Founding, and even the antebellum, generation; nor did the Framers envision the concept of "party." Political parties are the (uncontrolled) intervening variable. We have had no greater success in dealing with parties with respect to our governmental structure than did the British. It pains we to conclude that we are following the same path as the British Parliament whereby representation of the people has turned into *sovereignty* over the people - and the majority party is truly all that matters in Parliament.
The American novelty is that we have placed sovereignty into the Executive via the instrumentality of Administrative Agencies and as I argued those agency cadres are overwhelmingly partisans and form a distinct faction with their own distinct interests.
Did Madison contemplate a situation wherein the very government became a faction. Thus I do not see a "non-partisan" Legislative House as a solution for the reasons I stated. The majority party in the United States is government!!!!!

Here is something to consider:
"It comes from current Claremont Review essay by Charles Kessler in which he comments on the effects of the Wilsonian conception of Leadership.

“…..Each right denied was the kernel of a social problem. Each social problem demanded a social program. Every social program constituted a solemn promise, in conjunction with all the other programs, to bring to the people unprecedented material well-being and unimaginable spiritual fulfillment.
In this way American government, once limited by natural rights and a written constitution, became perpetually engaged in the reconstruction of human nature itself, of the people themselves. Rather than the government representing us, WE CAME TO REPRESENT IT. (emphasis mine).Bertholt Brecht satirized the inversion in his poem, “The Solution;” the people had forfeited the confidence of the government and could win it back only by redoubled efforts.”

This is not far off the mark and it is certainly something that the Founders could not have imagined.

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on October 03, 2015 at 12:48:53 pm

A PhD chemist from the U. of Chicago, Larry, a Mississippi man living in Baton Rouge was eighty, took no pharmaceuticals, and assiduously took responsibility for everything and every one in his life, including bird watching, rock collecting, chemotherapy chemistry, and science reading. His tire failed near LSU and Larry toook all precautions. An innocent driver lost control of his vehicle and crashed into Larry then his vehicle.

It was a typical wake with no casket. Well dressed, professional people with somber faces yet warm greetings for old friends. I thought and said, "If ever there was a time for weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth this is it." The listener quietly responded, "I feel it too."

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Phil Beaver
on October 03, 2015 at 14:58:48 pm

The question, then, is whether we want to accept a correction to the operational details to the Constitution as "fanciful" or whether the such a correction is necessary.

For it to be necessary it would have to be necessary to a purpose: We have a specific goal in mind, and if we do not make the change, we do not meet that goal. And the proposed change would have to be the only way to achieve that goal.

That's what a lot of the scholars' discussion here is about. What is the goal, and through which means can the objective be achieved?

In this case we are talking about the having a healthy (aka "sustainable" and moral) balance between the natural liberties we surrender to a government form, and the greater happiness we gain from the lesser liberty we surrender. Such a government must be limited and must not become a "runaway train."

The first good book I ever read on politics was Isabel Paterson's "God of the Machine." This was published in the 1930's as Adolf Hitler was rising in power. In her book she proposes a core theory of government: Any machine without a sufficient braking mechanism will eventually destroy itself. Government is such a machine.

Can a government with only populist chambers and executives preserve liberty?

As I suggest, and as the Framer's believed, as demonstrated in the form of their Constitution, it cannot. History (including our own) proves that with only populist checks on populist proposals, populism, with its inconsistent, unprincipled and transitory goals, will eventually trade more and more liberty for less and less desirable government. Over time government will degrade and it will become absurd, overreaching, and expansive and intrusive. That government is not limited. That government lacks a sufficient braking mechanism. That is your "government as ruling party." Therefore the populist checks are insufficient for maintaining a healthy balance. And therefore a change is necessary, not fanciful, because liberty itself is at stake.

I have proposed a few changes that would do that. The only way that those proposals would not be necessary is if there is a different way to make the same corrections, in which case we have a choice of how those corrections can be made.

All it takes to fix our poorly limited government is a small amount of effort to make just a few tiny corrections to a few minor flaws in the Constitution's original design. It can be done and it is necessary if we are to have "sustainable" liberty.

Like I said before, those changes need to be tried first at the local and state level to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they work and and to work out any bugs. It would be stupid to try to implement something like what I propose at the national level without first having a solid demonstration of correctness.

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Scott Amorian
on October 04, 2015 at 10:11:23 am


Good comments and fair enough.

Perhaps, I should clarify my position.
First, we are in agreement regarding what was intended by the Framers.
We also agree with the intended need for a "brake" on populism - unfortunately , the populists passed the 17th Amendment and "all hell broke loose."

Simply put I am arguing that in order to get us back to where we wanted (and ought) to be, we may need to become "more partisan" in order to defeat the forces that benefit from the current state.
If one wants peace, one must not only prepare for war, at times one must engage in war. So too, if one wants to return to the proper balance between government and the people and eliminate partisanship, one may have to temporarily enhance the partisan elements of the dynamic. (Hopefully, the right partisans win).

take care

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on October 04, 2015 at 15:58:12 pm

... just thinkin' out load now ...

I would suggest that the partisanship you advocate needs to be one party for the existing party system, and one party against it.

We see this actually starting to happen with the numbers of people bailing out of the Dem and Rep parties and becoming independents. The Dems and Reps currently each have just over 25% of the population and that percent is continuing to shrink.

I think the Tea Party has more promise in correcting the political environment we are discussing. But the Tea Party folks need to understand the general problem of what is flawed in the Constitution, otherwise they are going to continue trying to fight bad government and to implement unworkable solutions. The Balanced Budget Amendment for example is an attempt to work around the lack of sufficient internal checks on spending legislation. If a BBA is implemented, the financial problems will change in their character, but not stop.

I think that if the general understanding of what is broken in the Constitution were know by the general public, the public would move to correct it. Currently, only a handful of intellectuals (including the small handful of people who are reading this commentary) are aware of the problem.

Decision makers, such as the voting public, need correct information so they can make good decisions. The current dominant political parties will not communicate this correct information. Therefore another party is needed to champion the issue.

When I first understood the nature of the problem I was angry. I had been lied to and misled by pretty much everyone involved in politics, especially the Dems and Reps. If this discussion is brought to the public, the predictable anger will have to be addressed up front and directed at the guilty.

The problem is not "those bad people over there." The problem is the common misunderstanding of the way the Constitution is meant to work. The Senate must be able to "just say no" to bad laws from the House. The Senate and President must be above the fray so they can make decisions based on rationality and morality, not partisan politics; and they need to be above the fray so they can appoint Justices who are nonpartisan and therefore more rational in their judgments. The Dems and Reps will never support that because they benefit from the having things as they are.

Thanks for letting me bounce this off you. I see what needs to happen now.

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Scott Amorian
on October 04, 2015 at 16:50:11 pm

I certainly cannot agree with this conclusion:
Mr. Trump has for decades given hundreds of thousands of dollars to candidates of both major parties in order to gain access to political decisions to aid his business. Ms. Fiorina lobbied government to help her company, Hewlett Packard. There is no reason that businesspeople or successful professionals would act remarkably differently than those who have had careers in the public sector."

The REASON is accountability. No one in the public sector is accountable to anyone, unless they are a political appointee. Everyone else has tenure and cannot be dismissed. Academics, too, live in a world of tenure with no accountability for performance, results, or malpractice. Civil service and academia are highly sought after careers precisely because they are sinecures of security around which generations have been spent constructing governance methods that obscure, responsibility for any decisions or initiatives. If something works well, there are methods to find attribution so credit can be claimed. Failures are blamed on some mystical demon in the System. Benghazi, Waco, Fast & Furious, gun-free zones, Ukraine, rape in Sweden, Angela Merkel's phone tap, Pelosi's insider trading, are examples of outrages that bring plausible deniability so no one can be held to account.

Business people ARE accountable. First to their supervisor who can discharge them for any reason or no reason, but not for an illegal reason. The top management is accountable to the board and to the stockholders. They are also accountable to the public by way of the SEC, DOJ, EPA, DOE, DOT, DOA, OSHA, EEOC, ACOE, DHS, FAA, CAB, HHS, FDA, CBOE, CTA, NYSE, NASDAQ, AICPA, ATF, FDIC, and every state, federal, and local judge in the country.

Those with "careers in the public sector" have a difficult time to be sure, but the sole risk to their comfortable, prestigious, and imperious status is from intrigue, sabotage, and betrayal by other of their peers in the "public sector." The only accountability in the public sector is for crimes of moral turpitude such as prostitution, adultery, playing footsie with an undercover officer under a bathroom stall in Minneapolis, etc. Nothing ever happens to those who perpetrate abuse of power, blackmail, theft of public funds, damage to public property, destruction of public records, stealing public records, malpractice, violation of ethics, mistreatment of employees or underlings,telling a woman that she is the same height as one's wife, plagiarism, copyright infringement, phony invoices, padding expense reports, sweetheart deals with unions or contractors, ad infinitum. When that happens in the private sector, prosecution, jail, and public disgrace are added to the loss of one's livelihood. In government, "never mind."

This should be obvious to everyone but an "intellectual." Government workers are sycophantic actors who "administer" things. Public sector workers create, produce, grow, innovate, and generate a return to their masters or they are out. The only government workers who are thrown out are those who are discharged by a narcissistic, megalomaniacal couple who want to give the jobs to their cronies in the travel agency business. Or the sweet, little old biddies who have been handling White House correspondence for 30 years. Or a head of the CIA who failed to provide cover for an illegal gun running operation and the murder of a surrendered head of state.

What a preposterous proposition, you offer, my dear doctor!

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terry seale
on October 04, 2015 at 20:54:08 pm

I like your line of thought and would find it wonderful it we could collaborate at least for a time. I would like to paraphrase your posts to learn any corrections, then share some thoughts I think could help.

On May 8, you expressed that justices are forced to know “the philosophy of rights,” because they are saddled with the Bill of Rights. Federalist 84 objected to bills of rights for your reasons: they convert undeniable liberty into limiting declarations. Thus, they do not serve liberty. Law should serve personal liberty rather than laws. “Judicial reform would require clarification of fundamental principles.” Later, I will argue that the principles need reform.
On October 2, I got the feeling that your suggestions about a double ballot on 1) qualifications to fill the office and 2) disqualifying one candidate with proven disability was part of a larger idea. You cited both Abraham Lincoln and Barack Obama as unqualified for president. I agree and think neither of them reformed from their fundamental, distinct disabilities. (I do not celebrate Lincoln’s presidency at all, but am anxious to be corrected in my dire opinion.) You leave in question the value of keeping such candidates out of office by praising what Lincoln became.
In the case of multiple options, like in primaries, would your negative option apply to only one of the candidates? I think it should.
Your point about Presidents and Senators being above the fray, I thought, would apply to all federal officers. At least, that’s the impression I get from Federalists 10 and 57.
On October 3, you beautifully state that the 1787 signers tried to achieve “balance between the natural liberties we surrender to a government form, and the greater happiness we gain from the lesser liberty we surrender” and that change is needed only when imbalance is discovered. You point to the present government having no brakes and blame it on populism.
You proposed some small changes to effect a correction against a divergent system.
On October 4, you suggest a new party to champion correction of the problem the two party system will not even reveal to the people. “When I first understood the nature of the problem I was angry.” It seems that to you the problem is no one in charge is acting to fulfill either the 1787 draft constitution for the USA, the 1791 negotiated version, or the fully amended extant constitution.
Please correct my mistakes. Now, I want to make a few statements and then propose an alternate to forming a new party.
Here’s a timeline:
1513 Machiavelli writes in Chapter XI of the Prince that the state-church partnership can live anyway they want and do anything to the people, who will neither rebel nor leave the country.
April 1775. Mainland and colonial British subjects’ fire on each other over disputes about representative government.
July 4, 1786 the thirteen eastern seaboard colonies, having declared themselves United States with a Continental Congress and agreement into perpetuity to be the United States of America, declare independence from England. Elite patriots have the support of 40% of free inhabitants and a bid to complain against slavery imposed on them fails in order to preserve the union of states.
September, 1781, overpowered by France, with 30,000 military and a strategy, accompanied by the 11,000 continental army invoke the surrender of 10,000 British with German mercenaries. It is the end of a French war with England.
June 8, 1783, George Washington bids farewell to the Continental army. He instructs the inhabitants to establish domestic justice and a nation. His four principles cite neither religion nor common law as essential and he says they have the chance to draw from all the world’s resources to form a government. His thanks to France are absent, perhaps because he declares a need to stay out of European politics and wars.
1787 in Philadelphia, framers are caught with the dilemma of responsibility for slaves, payment of war debt, preserving the union and many other problems, hammer out a godless constitution that begins with a coercive, totalitarian subject, “We the People of the United States.” The sentence features a civic contract that authorizes two representative republics: the people in their states with a limited, unifying central mixed republic—part representative and part appointed. Only 70% of delegates sign the totalitarian product on September 17.
June 21, 1788, the required 70% of states, with yeah votes by 70% of delegates ratify the constitution with the provision that a Bill of Rights be negotiated by the first Congress.
1789, late April and early May, Congress hires chaplains to deify Congress by conducting legislative prayer. Chapter XI Machiavellianism is reinstated. In Greece v Galloway, 2014 the Supreme Court informs us that legislative prayer is for legislators; citizens are welcome to leave chambers while the ceremony is conducted.
December 15, 1791, the required 75% of states ratify the Bill of Rights, completing the original, negotiated constitution for the USA. In spirit, that act negated the preamble to the constitution for the USA, which, intentionally or not states the fundamentals on which the country is founded. Obscured by the label “secular,” which commonly means “non-religious,” the civic contract has never caught on, and the people wait under Chapter XI Machiavellianism.
1857. Flummoxed by the need to amend the constitution for the USA in order to effect abolition of slavery, Abraham Lincoln revises the Declaration of Independence to a founding document for the nation. He continued to press that point throughout his presidency and made due inclusion of key points from the Declaration of Independence in State Constitutions a Congressional Act with admittance of Nevada and all subsequent states, now fifteen in number.
Today. Referring to www.usdebtclock.org/, the elite managers of the USA are growing $18.4 trillion in debt which greets 4 million babies a year with their $4.6 million share. However, the elite, operating under obsolete opinion from Edmund Burke, Adam Smith, and the Church, are manipulating laws to protect their children, grandchildren and beyond from this heavy debt. Thus, according to USA opinion, “benefits to Posterity,” apply only to children of the elite. In this forum people have referred to the 1%. That’s 3.2 million people so we’re talking 40,000 protected babies and 3.96 million babies in financial risk. Here is strong reason for reform.

A remedy to collaborate on:
1. Inform inhabitants of the need to identify that part of the inhabitants who want the achievable combination no-harm personal liberty and domestic goodwill—PL&DG, separately from We the People of the United States (CPUS). Our discussions have arrived at the title A Civic People of the United States. Civic denotes the fact that because we are connected by the land we must collaborate for civic morality, allowing people’s personal moralities take private paths, such as religions, arts, sports, etc.
2. CPUS candidly collaborates for civic morality based on physics—that includes economic viability. By communicating and educating, they lead their government—community, city, state, and federal—into the transition from freedom of theism to freedom of thought, leaving theism in its proper place: privacy. At the right time, the First Amendment it so amended, not as a matter of codifying the law but as a matter of record of accomplishment.
3. Recognizing the gross domestic product, national defense, and infrastructure are shared assets, new methods of distributing gross domestic product are devised. The principal goal here is so that a soldier who goes to war and dies knew before he left the USA that he was not only a citizen, but an appreciated person and not only a consumer but an owner in the American capital system. The old ideas of hereditary ownership in properties that resulted from the Doctrine of Discovery are adjusted so that no infant in this country is trapped as a consumer but not an owner in American capitalism.
4. We see nine goals in the 1787 preamble and we think nine is plenty for 320 million inhabitants to embrace, but we see need for updating. For example, for personal liberty we cannot have unity of opinion, yet we can negotiate domestic goodwill and have integrity as a civic people.
5. The problems of modern governance are so intense and complicated. Also, Abraham Lincoln had a false dream: governance of the people by the people and for the people. A civic people do not want governance by a civic people: they want personal freedom and can collaborate for civic safety in its broadest terms. Therefore, a civic people draw from as many non-profit and other special interest services as possible, using physics-based ethics to guide civic morality. For examples see www.peep.ac.uk/content/618.0.html , www.learnliberty.org/academy/ , and www.copenhagenconsensus.com/post-2015-consensus/news .
6. The 4th of July will always be the day to celebrate the USA’s liberty from England. However, a civic people need to celebrate PL&DG, and we suggest both June 21, Ratification Day, and September 17, Constitution Day for those purposes.
7. We think 70% of inhabitants would like this plan of action and are starting the practice in Baton Rouge on October 10, 2015.
8. Like religious institutions, political parties are left free to serve their constituents, but a civic people supervise their governances.

Scott, I appreciate your posts and assert that they contributed to as well as motivated the above sharing. In fact, this post makes some of the posts on my blog obsolete: that's what collaboration wonderfully does.

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Phil Beaver
on October 04, 2015 at 21:02:45 pm


Agree in many respects;

" Government workers are sycophantic actors who “administer” things."

I would, however, seek to expand upon this statement. Yes, they are sycophantic; however, the real problem may very well be that in pursuit of the expected benefits of their sycophancy, i.e., "promotion", higher GS grading, etc. they oftentimes see the need to *grow* their little fiefdoms. In a sense this is no different from the private sector (as my personal experience with the little private sector buggers may attest). So, the "growth in government" which many of us here lament may be attributable to the standard motivations of any employee: "To get along, you have to go along." Regrettably, what usually happens is one must go along "with growth of government / agency purview / discretion, etc.

Then again, look at the dynamic of political campaigning: Candidate A says, "I passed a bill doing such and such (something we should not be doing in the first place). Candidate B decides to top Mr. A and says, "Well, I will expand it such and such. all for promotion, recognition or reelection.

Motivations are the same - rather base and it is what Scott (above) seeks to eliminate via his rather interesting proposals.

Rather sad, I would say!

"ouvre les tetes" of the Fed Admin State!

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on October 04, 2015 at 21:21:49 pm

Thank you. I have worked in Fortune 500 mega-companies, medium-sized enterprises, industrial engineering partnerships. and very huge law firms. True enough that in all these there are empire builders and internal politics Law firms are quite unique in that every lawyer there is in business for himself and considers the firm not an employer but a cooperative means to obtain infrastructure, power, and referrals.

But in every place I have worked, ideas, suggestions, and fully-formed proposals to reduce cost, minimize waste, rework, lost time, increase productivity, reduce payroll and man hours necessary to meet production goals, maximize profit, enhance stockholder equity, innovate technology, improve worker and customer safety, product quality, competitive advantage, increase market share are the REAL means of advancement, increased compensation, and meaningful achievement. All of these things are measured by numbers. None of these activities are rewarded, encouraged, or condoned in public organizations. Never is a budget reduced.

I studied legal research at graduate school, and library students there were advised to prepare a manila folder of want lists so that near the end of the fiscal ear, they would be able to quickly produce necessary requisitions and manifests for whatever was required to PREVENT the full budget from remaining unspent. That is completely opposite of what we learn in profit-making, even non-profit-making enterprise management.

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terry seale

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