Monday, January 16, 2017

A better reason to expand the House of Representatives

Increasing the number of Representatives in the House would address the issue of disparity in votors per elector, but that is neither the only nor the best reason to do so. This is actually a good idea in itself. It may seem paradoxical, but the best way to reduce government overall could be to increase one particular part of it.

This is technically feasible. An isolated hardwired network can be built, giving each Representative a physical key that can be used to activate that Representatives physical terminal, would make the voting possible. As the network is isolated, it is cannot be hacked from the outside. Since each Representative would have a physical key and a matching physical terminal, it would not be possible (as it is in California) for any Representative to cast a different Representative's vote.

With 700,000 people per Representative on average, and 435 Representatives total, the balance of power is shifted strongly away from the people and towards both lobbyists and the establishment parties. It is far easier to control 435 people than it is to control 4,465 people. On the other side of the equation, it is far easier for one person to have any influence when he is one out of 70,000 instead of one out of 700,000.

Those who believe in government power will describe the feasibility as the reason to oppose this, but the real reason this would be opposed is because of how it shifts power away from the government. It would be far easier for the constituents to control their Representative with that representation ratio. Lobbyists will need to expand their budget by a factor of ten in order to buy as much influence as they can currently buy on their existing budget. With ten times as many races to monitor, it will be much harder for the national party, or even the state parties, to control the Representatives and give more power to the local parties. These local parties would also have to be smaller and more local to adequately serve the Representatives.

As counter-intuitive as it might seem at first, increasing this one component of the Federal Government grants much more power to the local communities and the people, and it doesn’t require amending the constitution or any action that might wind up being overturned by a judge on constitutional grounds.

Monday, January 09, 2017

Minors Tried as Adults

The various governments within the United States have a very unclear view of when a person is an adult. The right to vote, sign contracts, and enlist in the military (or be drafted in to the military) are all granted at the age of eighteen. The age at which one can get a driver’s license varies state by state but generally hovers around sixteen, with various additional restrictions in place at first. However, the age to rent a car is as low as twenty one and as high as twenty five.

The age of consent also varies by state between sixteen and eighteen. The age of marriage is more consistent being eighteen in most states, nineteen in Nebraska, and twenty one in Mississippi, but with earlier marriages being available in most states given special situations. The age to purchase tobacco varies between eighteen and twenty one, while the age to purchase alcohol is consistently twenty one.

Then there are times when legal adults are included in statistics that appear to be about minors when they should not be. A nineteen year old woman, married and a high school graduate, would be included in statistics about teenage pregnancy. A nineteen year old man involved in a gang fight and killed by a firearm will be included in statistics about teens being killed by firearms.

Then there is the age of majority at which a person can be tried as an adult in a court of law. This is where the inconsistency becomes severely detrimental. Although the laws about the age of majority are inconsistent to the point where it is nearly impossible to say when someone is actually fully an adult with all the rights and privileges therein, there are laws that say minors should be tried in juvenile court and adults should be tried in criminal court. These laws restrict the activities of government, and so it should never be the government that decides when these laws should be waived.

A canny defense lawyer should, upon hearing that the prosecutor wants to try a minor as an adult, request that if the defendant is found not guilty then the defendant should get all the other rights and privileges of being an adult. The alternative is that the individual is made to bear the responsibilities but not the rights, when the theory of separating minors from adults is that minors lack the rights but gain the benefits of the responsibilities, while adults bear the responsibilities but also have the rights.

In a more ideal world, it would be easy to determine when an individual is an adult and can therefore bear the rights and responsibilities thereof. The government cannot operate on that standard, though, and a distinct and objective standard, such as age, must be a substitute. Once the government sets such a standard, the government must never violate said standard. If the standard itself is wrong, then it should be changed. The one agency that must never be allowed to pick and choose the rules it operates under is government itself.

Monday, January 02, 2017

All the Right People Lost

The election of Donald Trump, while not necessarily good in itself from a libertarian point of view, has certainly had effects that are very good. The best part of his victory is who lost when he won.

The election was supposed to be a boring contest between Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton, with Hillary Clinton eventually winning on the platform of being the first woman president. Even if Donald Trump changes nothing, he succeeded in forcing all the right people out of the office they sought. He ended the Bush dynasty and the Clinton dynasty.

Some suspect that his cabinet choices are deliberately crafted to place people into positions where they can destroy the agencies they are in charge of, or at least bring ridicule upon said agencies. Although a good theory that is currently supported by the initial evidence, it is perhaps too early to determine the validity of this theory and more data will be needed before a conclusion can be drawn.

The insulated establishment political class, although still in power, lost through the election of Donald Trump. Also the secondary media class that has been telling the people that Hillary Clinton was going to won, that daily campaigned against Donald Trump while claiming that it was simply reporting the news, saw that all their efforts failed to steer the election.

Those who engage in identity politics also lost. Donald Trump's win is often described as due to racism. Although David Duke didn't actually endorse Donald Trump, he gave an impression that he had a favorable opinion of him. The same can be said of William Quigg and his statements regarding Hillary Clinton. The Southern Poverty and Law Center estimates that there are at most about 7,000 members of the KKK in the United States. They have a vested interest in estimating as high a number as possible, and that is the number they came up with. Assuming all 7,000 broke for the same candidate instead of being split like the leadership was (an unreasonable assumption) that still constute less than 0.01% of the total vote for the candidate they supported. Instead it has been shown in exit polling that Donald Trump did better than Mitt Romney among minorities, and Hillary Clinton did worse than Barack Obama. Minorities who voted for Donald Trump are being accused of betraying the group they are told they belong to, showing that identity politics lost.

Another group that lost were the NeoConservatives. They are not as fixated on supporting a particular party, they can be flexible with partisanship as long as they get their desired outcomes. They did not have a particular problem with Barack Obama, and would have been hapy had any standard Republican won or had Hillary Clinton won, because they would have been able to further their agenda of military domination of the Middle East. The last time a candidate actually opposed that from the inside, and did so with any degree of effect, was Ron Paul and his staunch anti-war agenda. Donald Trump has already indicated that, perhaps not nearly as in favor of peace as a libertarian would be, he is by no means the hawk that is Hillary. He will actually have the nerve to talk to the Russians, a move being ridiculed as being a puppet of the Russians.

Although it may very well happen that Donald Trump will not bring any major changes, the fact that he was elected has had the benefit of all the right people losing. Even if he brings no real changes, the futures of both major parties are shaken by his victory.

Monday, December 26, 2016

The Puzzle of Trump

Anyone familiar with Austrian Economics can see the direction the economy is going, and know that it is not a good direction. Anyone familiar with Libertarian Politics can figure out how most politicians are going to try to fix the economy, and how those solutions will not work.

That applies to almost every career politician, as they have long records showing where they stand on the issues. What they say doesn't matter nearly as much as what they do, especially since the two are often at odds and what they do has the most direct and relevant impact.

Trump has no such record. Guesses can be made, but he doesn't have a record of public service and his statements can be construed to cover almost any possible position.

There are two things that can be known for sure. The first is from the closest he has to a record, which is his very long record of friendship with the Clinton family before he dared to oppose her for the presidency. The second is the advisors he is surrounding himself with, which are very traditional Republican. The two indicators are, unfortunately, opposite, which makes reading Trump even more difficult.

It is still a given that economic trends are not good, but what might be done about these trends is very difficult to determine.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Fixing the Electoral College

Every four years the American public rediscovers the electoral college, and there are many calls for reform that never happen. Most of those laws require getting the legislatures of the many states to each act in cooperation with each other, or a constitutional amendment. But there is a much easier way to repair the problem of the electoral college, and it does not require a constitutional amendment.

It also has many other benefits above and beyond the electoral college.

The number of electors is determined by adding the number of Representatives to the number of Senators. Currently there are 435 voting members of the U. S. House of Representatives, and it has been that way for decades. There is no reason, in the constitution, for it to be that way. The only limiting factor mentioned in the constitution is in Article One, Section Two, Clause Three, which states "The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at Least one Representative".

Currently each Representative represents, on average, 700,000 people. If the number of Representatives were doubled, the apportionment would not come near the constitutional limit. If the Representatives were increased by a factor of 10 that would bring the representation more in line with what was intended with the constitution and still not risk violating the constitutional limit.

Given the current apportionment, California has 55 electors representing 677,000 people per elector while Wyoming has 3 electors representing 188,000 people, rounded to the nearest thousand.

Reapportioning so that there is one Representative per 70,000 people results in 4,465 Representatives. This leads to 4,567 electors, including the District of Columbia. This leads to California having approximately 70,000 people per elector while Wyoming has 56,000 people per elector, a far smaller disparity than currently exists.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Further on the College Scam

There are many reasons why someone being tens of thousands of dollars in debt for a degree in Women's Studies is symptomatic of the problems with higher education, or indeed all of education, in the United States. This goes beyond the problem of trying to steal the cause by emulating the effect and is actually a problem with education itself.

The biggest problem with higher education is that it is trying to achieve conflicting purposes. Some say that higher education is for enrichment and enlightenment, to teach people how to think and to create a broadened perspective. If that is true, then a higher education is a luxury item, and not one that a person should go into debt for at all. The more expensive the luxury item, the more people who cannot afford expensive luxury items should not purchase education. It is horribly politically incorrect to think of education as a luxury for the rich though.

On the other hand, if education is supposed to train one for a career, then again there is no reason why a person should go tens of thousands of dollars into debt for a Women’s Studies degree. If the purpose is to train for a career, then there is something horribly wrong with the educational priorities demonstrated in the United States today. Many people talk about the need for STEM, but the discussion on campus is typically about strengthening the position of the multi-cultural departments.

Even on a typical campus not overrun by multi-culturalism, when the curriculum is being developed each department lobbies to increase their share of the core requirements. It takes a firm hand by the college administration to hold down the core requirements to that they do not overwhelm the course load required by the student of the college. Each of these additions to the required courses hearkens back to the purpose of college being enlightenment instead of applicable to a career. Assuming the purpose is to apply to a career, the enlightenment purpose tends to seep back in over time, increasing the cost.

Assuming again that the purpose is to train for a career, the many people taking the enlightenment and enrichment courses are competing for class space and allocated funds, taking funds away from career oriented courses of study and raising the price for those who would directly benefit from being in college. Both the philosophy major and the engineering major have to take Freshman English, and there are only so many seats in the class. That raises the price of college for the engineering major who is a perfect example of the second potential purpose of education.

One does not need to major in science to have a directly applicable career coming out of college. A typical junior college includes many departments not offered in a typical four year college that train in many trades. At a four year college there are departments that include various aspects of finance, education, or interpreting, as examples of immediately applicable majors.

Then, as John Taylor Gatto has pointed out, there is a third purpose to education as it is set up today, also conflicting. It is to train people to accept the governmental system that exists today and to make obedient workers. That has potential to overlap with the purpose of training for a career but conflicts grossly with the purpose of enlightenment.

Combine all of these with the progressive effort to capture the cause by emulating the effect, a cargo-cult mentality with what makes one successful, and the cost of education can only climb absurdly so that even those who do manage to cut through the nonsense and are sensible enough to major in something that can be applied, even they can no longer afford college. The cargo-cult mentality, hoping to make everyone successful, will result in nobody being successful.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

College Scam

 photo feminist-bartender.jpg

This image has become popular recently among conservatives, and while the authenticity is not verified it is sufficiently likely that one can assume that if this exact picture is not real then there are others in the described situation. While there are several other problems in the 99% statement being held, the most glaring one is the problem of student debt and underemployment.

Other libertarian writers have described just how bad of an investment college generally is. This picture sums up the case as well. Unless a person majors in a field that is likely to have jobs available, a college education can indeed be a losing proposition.

Popular advice is to major in "STEM", Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. The problem is only three of those are actually good advice - mathematics even can be considered too general a field, too unspecialized, to be easily applicable to the job market.

On the other hand, there are people who major in fields that have no immediately recognizable applications to such a degree that even the generalized field of mathematics seems like a good alternative. The woman in the picture apparently has a Masters Degree in Women’s Studies. Before going into debt the question should have been asked what was the intended career path of someone with that degree.

Given the soaring costs of college, and the reduced payout even in immediately applicable degrees, it would also be advisable to consider technical schools and trade schools. Many community colleges offer courses in auto repair, plumbing, sheet metal, etc. The point is that each of these, much like STEM, are jobs that can be applied quickly and easily.

The age of liberal arts majors are waning. There was a time when college was a luxury only the rich could afford, or that the very intelligent could attain with scholarships. Confusing cause and effect, it was determined that since the rich went to college, then going to college would make people wealthy, and therefore more and more people should be encouraged to go to college. But instead of producing an entire society of those who were able to afford the status symbol of college, the value of the degree has been weakened while the cost has gone up.

One cannot impose the effects of a better life in order to create the substance. The substance is what creates the effects. College once was, and is becoming again, an effect or feature of wealth, and no longer a guarantee of wealth. And colleges that emphasize useless majors over anything related to science are a symptom of the decline.