Iconoclastic ideas (or mysteries)

Melvyn Magree

“I would love to talk to people, and say ‘Why do you need so much money?’ And why do people say it’s so admirable? I think the world has gone quite mad.” - John Cleese as reported by Lee Schafer, Star Tribune, 2016-02-17.

I haven’t yet gone back to “Dark Money”, the book I mentioned last week, but I keep wondering why so many exorbitantly rich have so much money to slosh around that they spend exorbitant sums to ensure that they get even more.  When one has hundreds of billions of dollars, what’s a hundred billion or two less?

What is galling is that many claim they earned it, every penny.  But how many people worked for a pittance or even a decent salary to create and implement the ideas to earn this money?  Often several thousand people showed up every day to bring in that money while the billionaire was jetting here and there on vacation or attending a conference to rail against taxes and government, the same taxes and the same government that subsidizes many of their enterprises.  For example, I’ve seen estimates that every Walmart store costs government entities one million dollars a year.

Many who want strict adherence to the Constitution seem to forget “Regulate commerce among states” and “establish a post office”.

The Republicans and their giant-corp backers are doing their best to nullify the EPA rule about emissions.  Are these polluters keeping their emissions in the state where they are produced?  If any of these emissions go to another state, then the President is right to regulate this commerce in emissions.

The Republicans seem to be bending over backwards to dis-establish the Post Office.  The latest gimmick was to impose far greater requirements on pension funding than many corporations get by with.  The last I looked my Unisys pension was funded at 77 percent.  I exaggerate, but it seems like the Republicans want the Postal Service to be fully-funded on pensions for employees who have not even been hired yet.

I really don’t know what a “fair share” of taxes is, but it is a mystery how many people want perfect infra-structure, immediate arrest of all criminals, and bombing of countries far, far away but do not want to pay any taxes for any of these.  Is there a correlation between complaints about government and complaints about burdensome taxes?

A good case in point is the following headline: “Wisconsin crackdown on repeat drunken drivers will cost taxpayers”, Mark Sommerhauser, Wisconsin State Journal, published in the Duluth News Tribune, 2016-02-19.  Duh!?  What is the cost to taxpayers of the death and destruction caused by drunken drivers?  I submit that it is quite a bit higher than the cost of the crackdown.  In other words, spend what seems too much to prevent something that costs even more.  Even that crackdown on fourth offenders may be too soft. Sweden had or maybe still has tough drunk driving laws: first offense was two years in jail, even for members of Parliament.

Why does Clinton have to be president so we finally have a woman president?  Amy Klobuchar or Elizabeth Warren are much better choices, but neither seems to be interested.

Why do we have reach out across (fill-in the blank) lines?  Can’t we just be nice to everybody.  I hold doors for others, they hold doors for me.  Rodney King said, “Can’t we all just get along.”

We do have to reform or at least neutralize people who judge people by factors which have nothing to do with a given situation.

Right now many established and respected media are giving misleading information.  Clinton “won” in Nevada and Trump “won” in South Carolina.  I posted a comment on a New York Times article; the article made no reference to the actual delegates gained.  Sorry, I didn’t note the article.  Interestingly, my comment was not posted for all to see.  At least, as I write this hours later, I have not been emailed that my comment was posted.

Well, Trump did win in South Carolina because the South Carolina Republican primary is winner take-all.  He “won” with less than a third of the vote.  However, in Nevada, Clinton received 22 delegates and Sanders received 16 delegates.  Oops, another source gives 19-15, and yet another shows a spread of about 600 votes.  Sorry, I’m visiting so many sites to get to the truth that I have forgotten where I found which figures.  Clinton does have an advantage because of super-delegates, elected and party officials who are automatically delegates to the convention.  The super-delegates are overwhelmingly pro-Clinton.

One of these sources was “How many delegates do Trump, Clinton need to win? What’s the delegate count for each candidate?” by Jonathan D. Salant at http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2016/02/how_many_delegates_do_hillary_clinton_and_donald_t.html.

Let’s skip caucuses and primaries and even do away with political parties.  Even though the writers of the Constitution warned about factions, they soon split into them.  The most famous being the long feud between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams.

Let’s start at the local level.  Let each registered voter send in a nomination for each position by email or mail.  Rank the nominations by number of votes; those who are in the top half of the list go on to the next ballot.  Repeat as necessary until one is chosen.  Named candidates can drop out at any time.

Some may say that this is too expensive and subject to fraud.  Isn’t the low turnout expensive to our society?  Supposedly we already have too much fraud if you believe those who demand onerous restrictions on voting.

The only vote that doesn’t count is the vote not cast.