The Weiner Component Vol, 2 – #2: Images of the 2016 Election

English: Painting, 1856, by Junius Brutus Stea...

English: Painting, 1856, by Junius Brutus Stearns, Washington at Constitutional Convention of 1787, signing of U.S. Constitution. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Seal of the President of the United S...

In every Democratic Country, with the exception of the United States, the winner of the Presidential or Prime Minister Election is the one who receives the most popular votes.  All the votes count equally; every citizen has one vote that counts the same as every other vote.  The exception to this is the U.S. where the winner is the one who receives the most Electoral Votes.  It takes 270 Electoral Votes to win the Election in the United States.  There are 538 Electoral Votes possible, 435 for the members of the House of Representatives, 100 for the Senators from the 50 states, and 3 for members of territories belonging to the U.S.

 

The system was designed in the late 18th Century when the Constitution came into existence.  It was the first Democratic instrument of modern government.  Its intent was to be Democratic without being overly Democratic.  According to the original document of government, the Constitution, the House of Representatives would be elected directly by the property owning male voters and represent them, two Senators would be elected by each of the State Legislatures and represent their interests.  The President or chief executive would be chosen by an Electoral College made up of the same number of both members of the House and Senate.  The voters would choose the smartest men in their Districts to pick out the best man in the country to be President.  Everyone understood that George Washington would be the first President.  There is no mention of political parties in the Constitution nor was there any thought of them at the time.

 

The first political party was organized by Alexander Hamilton, one of the Founding Fathers, while the Constitution was being voted into existence by nine of the twelve states.  Rhode Island refused to participate in this activity.  The first political party, the Federalists, represented the Urban Business Class. 

 

The second political party was organized by Thomas Jefferson for the 1800 Presidential Election in order for him to become President.  It was called the Republican Party.  The Federalists satirically christened it the Democratic-Republican Party and shortly thereafter it became the Democratic Party, a name it still bares today. 

 

Jefferson favored the Yeoman (small) farmer.  In fact his rationale for the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 was so that there would be land available for the small farmers for the next hundred years.

 

In essence the Democratic Party has always favored the ordinary citizen above the merchant or business class.  During the Great Depression of 1929 the Democratic Party took on a level of responsibility for him where he couldn’t provide for himself.  That is still the major maxim of the Democratic Party. 

 

The Republican Party which officially came into existence in the Election of 1860 over the issue of slavery and has always favored business and the wealthy class.  It is an interesting commentary on the current society that they elected a group who favors the business class over the ordinary individual citizens.  They were able to do this because the form of our government is archaic, allowing a minority of the population to elect the President and allowing the states to gerrymander or shape their Election Districts in such a way that they favor the Republican Party.

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The Constitution has been amended numerous times in the past, clarifying or changing aspects of its original intent.  In fact the first ten amendments, the Bill of Rights, was agreed upon even before the Constitution was ratified by the original nine states.  James Madison wrote twelve amendments, of which ten were approved by nine of the states, a 2/3 majority.  The rest of the amendments, currently making a total of 27, were added through 1992.  An equal rights amendment, making women equal legally with males was attempted but never passed by the 2/3s majority.

 

All citizens of the United States, both males and females since 1972, upon reaching the age of 18 now have the right to vote.  It took more than one Amendment to the Constitution to do that.  But the votes are not counted equally and innumerable instances of voter suppression during elections occur today in the United States.

 

By law a census of the population is taken every ten years and the fixed number of seats in the House of Representatives is reapportioned according to changes in the population.  There are 435 seats in the House of Representatives and they are reapportioned every decade.  The next census will occur in 2020. 

 

Regardless of its actual population every state must have at least one representative in the House of Representatives.  Seven states have that number beginning with Montana which has a population of 1,023,579, with the number decreasing to Wyoming which has 584,153 citizens.    Five states have two representatives, three states have three, six states have four representatives, three states have five, two states have six, three have seven representatives, and four have eight representatives.  Four states beginning with Tennessee, which has a population of 6,549,352 have nine representatives in the House of Representatives.  Then single states have ten, eleven, twelve, and thirteen representatives.  Two states have fourteen representatives. One state has sixteen.  Two states have 18 and two have 27.  Texas has 36 seats in the House of Representatives and California has 53 seats. 

 

Every state regardless of population has at least three representatives in Congress: one in the House of Representatives and two in the Senate, giving them at least 3 Electoral Votes.  California, according to the Census Bureau in July of 2014, had a population of 38,802,500 people and a total of 55 Votes in Congress: 53 in the House of Representatives and 2 in the Senate.  Wyoming, with a population of 584,153, had a total of 3 Congressional votes: one in the House of Representatives and two in the Senate. 

 

There are fifty states making up the bulk of the United States.  Population-wise it takes 29 of the lowest populated states to make up the approximate population of California.  Their populations go from about 5 ½ million down to a little above ½ million.  Yet each of these states have two Senators.  This throws their representation in Congress well out of kilter with the high population states like California, Texas, Florida, and New York.  Combined their representation in Congress is totally out of proportion to the high population states, making their votes count for far more than the other states.  It’s this type of balance that got Donald Trump elected to the presidency even though Hillary Clinton had almost three million more popular votes than he got in the 2016 Presidential Election.

        

In addition within all the states there is a gradual movement from the rural areas to the urban ones where more new jobs develop.  Farming, incidentally, has become and is more and more mechanized requiring less and less people.  This means that the votes in the rural districts tend to count for more than in the cities because their number is always decreasing.  Depending upon the accuracy of the census these numbers are adjusted every decade.  A new census will occur in 2020.

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Another factor that keeps the vote uneven is that in the United States there are 50 plus elections.  Each state conducts its own separate election under its own specific laws.  This can and does lead in interesting and unfair situations.  In Texas, for example, in order to vote an individual needs a special type of official identification.  These can be easily gotten in the cities.  But a percentage of the state live and work in rural areas.  In order for these people to get the ID they have to take a day off from work and go into a nearby city, pay a fee, and get the ID.  But the facilities that issue these IDs do not keep regular hours, nor are they open every day.  The days and hours they function are not advertised.  Texas is a right to work state which limits union operations there.  A goodly percentage of the people working in the rural area cannot afford to take a day off or are they necessarily allowed to do so.  Since these laws were passed, not many years ago, the voting by minorities has dropped several hundred thousand.  When this case was first appealed the Judge declared that this law was a modern version of the poll tax and declared it unconstitutional.  It was then appealed to the Fifth Circuit Court which was completely appointed by Republican presidents.  They upheld the law, declaring it Constitutional.  It can be appealed to the Supreme Court, but they now consist of four liberal and four conservative judges.  The probability is that they will not even take the case.

 

Before this law was passed Texas was becoming a purple state with a possibility of eventually becoming a blue or Democratic state.  By restricting minority voting in the state the Republican dominated legislature was able to turn it back into a red or Republican state.  This type of activity is going on throughout all the states where the Republicans dominate the legislature. There is a constant struggle between the Democrats and Republicans to expand and to restrict the vote.  Eventually the Democrats will win because the basic makeup or demographics of the U.S. population is changing.  The Caucasians or whites are no longer the majority of the population.  They are just one of the large minorities that exist in the country now.  And that number is gradually decreasing.

 

Another device for controlling elections in some of the larger states is by the use of gerrymandering.  Keep in mind that each state controls completely the elections held within its boundaries.  There is a fixed number of voting districts for the House of Representatives, 435.  Every ten years there is a census and the voting districts are reconstituted based upon population changes.  Consequently some states will gain seats in the House of Representatives while others will lose one of more seats.  In any case the state districts are redrawn after each census.  In Republican dominated states there is imaginative gerrymandering.

 

By going over the party registrations within the state each political party can determine which regions are strongly Democratic and which are mainly Republican.  By freely drawing the lines in an erratic fashion a district can be changed from being heavily for one or the other political party.  Both parties have done this.  But the Republicans have used this device far more than the Democrats.   

 

In fact since the 1965 Presidential Election when Barry Goldwater ran against Lyndon B. Johnson the extreme right section of the Republican Party has vigilantly worked to extend their influence on a state level.  By the Census of 2010 they were able to dominate the House of Representatives.  In 2012, even though one and a quarter million more Democrats voted for members of the House of Representatives the Republicans still had the majority of members there.  In terms of today’s House of Representatives Democratic voting blocs have been broken up by suddenly having their parts connected to three or four Republic areas with the Democrats becoming a minority in each of the new Republican dominated districts.

 

This gerrymandering has also carried over to the 2016 Presidential Election in medium sized states by establishing the Electoral Voting Districts which, in point of fact, are the same as the House of Representative Districts.  Donald J. Trump won the election even though Hillary Clinton had 2.8 million more popular votes. 

 

Trump had 306 Electoral Votes.  Several of his electors refused to vote for him.  Instead they cast their votes for other Republicans.  Clinton had 232 Electoral Votes.  The popular vote for Trump was 62,979,879 votes, 46.1% of the popular vote.  The popular vote for Clinton was 65,844,954 votes, 48.2%.  Clearly Hilary Clinton won the 2016 Presidential Election but Trump won the Electoral Vote.  Who should really be President of the United States?

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What is needed to fairly have rule by the majority are four Amendments to the Constitution, all dealing with one or another aspect of elections.

 

First: the Federal Government has to assume responsibility for the elections in all the states, having them all function with one similar set of rules from the census on.  The states with more than one Election District should be all divided geographically and not based upon the political registration of its inhabitants.  Thus gerrymandering will be permanently ended.

 

Second: we need some form of common registration in all the states and territories that will encourage the adult population to vote in all the elections.  Currently shortly after birth all babies born in the United States receive their Social Security number.  Upon reaching the age of 18 they could also receive their registration forms, pre-stamped, to be filled out and mailed back.

 

Third: the Electoral College has to be done away with.  Presidential Elections should be won by the number of votes cast.  One equal vote for every person voting, having them all count the same.  The winner being the individual getting the majority of votes.

 

Fourth: The 100 Senate seats to be divided up according to population.  Each of the 50 states to have one Senator.  The remaining 50 Senate seats to be divided up by state population.  While this would still give the smaller states an advantage it would half the advantage that currently exists.

 

This can be done as either a single Amendment with four sections or as four separate Amendments.  The probability is that the fourth section, dealing with the number of Senators per state, will not come about in the near future.  The two Senator per state concept is a sacred cow.

 

Whether the Amendment(s) will be passed sometime during the next decade or during the rest of this century is a moot question.  The current system is advantageous to the Republican Party and at this point they control 29 state governments.  It is dubious that these states would vote for one or more Amendments to the Constitution that could hurt their standing as a political party. 

 

However soon to be former President Barack Obama has called for and may lead a grass root rebellion starting with school boards and moving up to state governments in order to take back the Federal Government.  Donald Trump and the Republican dominated Congress may well cooperate with Barack Obama by the legislation they put forth and President Donald Trump signs. 

 

The next census is in 2020 that is two elections from now.  Trump and the Republicans may well discredit themselves with the American people by then.  The bleak seeming future could change fairly quickly, particularly with well over 20 million people losing their medical coverage.

Map of number of electoral votes by state afte...

Map of number of electoral votes by state after redistricting from the 2000 census. Modified by User:Theshibboleth for the font to be consistent with electoral maps. Edited with Inkscape. Reuploaded by User:King of Hearts to correct spelling (vs. Image:Electorial map.svg). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Weiner Component Vol 2 #1 Part 2 The Introduction

Deviations from the long term growth trend US ...

Deviations from the long term growth trend US 1954–2005 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Business Cycle

Business Cycle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To avoid the vicissitudes of the business cycle and the inequality of the distribution of the National Income, the Gross Domestic Product, we need a new economic model or we have to make intensive changes in our present system.  If we stay essentially with our present model then the government has through a tax and redistribution system to balance incomes. A realistic minimum standard of living has to be set.  Those earning more than this level will have to be taxed on a realistic graduated level.  Those earning less would receive transfer payments from the government to bring their standard of living up to the minimum level which has to allow for a decent standard of living.  With this system, which more or less exists today in many European nations, we can keep the profit system and have all its so-called advantages.  But would this end the vicissitudes of the Business Cycle?

 

The amount of productivity today per working unit/person is constantly increasing.  One individual working continually provides for more and more people.  In order to keep constantly producing goods and services this productivity must be continually used up so more is always needed.  Consumption now becomes as important as production if the economy is to continually grow.  Therefore the consumer whether or not he/she is employed is needed as much as the producer.  This system can only flourish through government taxes and a redistribution of the National Income.  The producers can earn assorted amounts of surplus income which they can spend, save or invest while the unemployed or underemployed population can receive government transfer payments which will allow them to properly consume the necessary goods and services to both keep production going and have a decent standard of living.

 

Of course if we can create a new economic model which would allow for a fair distribution of goods and services without using the profit system then we would be far better off.  But this would probably require a complete change in our overall thinking and value systems.  We would also have to deal with the issues of what to produce and how to produce it without the motivating force of the profit system. 

   

Is it possible?  We would have to separate production of goods and services from money and find another reason to labor other than individual profit.

 

There is a disparity between the use of money as income, a means of exchange, and storage for labor and profits.  The distribution and expenditure of money determines where we are on the Business Cycle.  This, in turn, can throw the economy into recession or depression and cause a breakdown in the production of goods and services and partial or massive unemployment.  The extent of the distribution of money can cause a partial or full cessation in the distribution of goods and services.  They are two separate entities that are tied together in an unwholesome relationship.  If they were separated the economy would be far better off.  The problem, of course, is how to separate them.

 

Generally speaking, the overall public reaction to all of this is to return to the thinking of the late Nineteenth Century: the “safety” of the profit system. This, I believe, President Donald J. Trump will attempt to do; and this, seems to be today, the basic Republican value for economic growth.

 

     MONEY: ITS HISTORY AND USE:  The two entities which keep any economy functioning are self-interest and money.  Self-interest would affect every working individual from owner, entrepreneur, to physical laborer who wants the greatest return he/she can get from their endeavors.  Money is the grease that operates the economy: it is wages, salaries, profits, rents, interest, and dividends.  The spending of money determines demand, production, and also the phases of the Business Cycle.

 

The entrepreneur, factory or store owner will charge the greatest amount they can legitimately and pay his employees the least amount they can get away with.  Thus prices will be as high as possible while money paid to worker will be as low as it can be.  The producer will maximize production to increase profits; the workers will not be able to purchase all the goods and services produced because of low wages and over-production will eventually result.  This will lead to recession, unemployment, business failures, and depression.  Self-interest, which is the major motivating force of the economy, also tends to eventually cause the economy to malfunction into depression.

 

What is the problem?  It is the process of the distribution of money throughout the economy.  Whenever the distribution breaks down the economy goes into recession and depression.  It ceases to operate for the benefit of its members.

 

The use and distribution of money becomes the problem.  What then is money?

 

To understand what it is and its use(s) we need to have knowledge of how money was used both historically and at present.  Presumably, at first, man begins with barter: goods and services were directly exchanged for goods and services.  At some later point in time these were exchanged for their exact value, generally, in precious metals.  Rather than continue using scales to weigh the metal one group of traders, probably the Phoenicians, began stamping the weight on the metal piece.  This became the initial use of money.  The idea was then picked up by other groups or nations and coins came into being: an exact weight of a precious metal with the country or ruler or some symbol stamped on the metal to guarantee its value.  What happens here is that a good is exchanged for its exact value in the metal: equal value for equal value.  This allowed for free trade throughout the Mediterranean several thousand years ago.

 

Money, as it existed at this time, was labor or a good whose value was exchanged for its equivalent in gold, silver, or cooper coins.  Similar worth was exchanged for similar worth.

 

As time proceeded the coins became more ornate.  Rulers images were stamped on the coins, various designs were used.  Different denominations appeared, allowing coins to be minted in different sizes and weights; and also in different metals.  And thus was value exchanged for value, money for goods and services.

 

Of course, into this economic system occasionally various enterprising individuals and/or governments began a process of “watering” some of the coins minted; that is, mixing base metal with the gold or silver, thereby hoping to get more goods and services for less gold or silver.  This process would be done on a large scale by such individuals as the Roman Emperor, Nero; who tended to need more money than he could collect in taxes.  The result was to cheapen the value of the specie bringing about inflation which also resulted in a lowering of overall wages and other disruptive problems to the economy.

 

However, this economic system worked and continued to work successfully as long as conditions in the society(ies) were stable; that is, there is no rapid infusion of massive amounts of gold or if large amounts of money don’t have to be transferred over distant areas.

 

The discovery of the New World by Christopher Columbus brought into Europe, in the Sixteenth Century, massive amounts of gold over a fairly short period of time.  The Americas were systematically looted.  The gold passing through Spain and went on to the Netherlands, which was ruled by the same person as Spain, and then into rapid circulation throughout Europe.  This caused, what has been referred to as, “The Gold Revolution” which decreased significantly and continually the value of gold in its relationship to goods and services, and brought about unbelievable economic hardships to the wage earning working classes of Europe.  Wages remained essentially fixed while the value of the money dropped continually in a never ending cycle of inflation; thus bringing about a tremendous drop in standards of living.  It took about a century for a new reasonable balance between the value of gold in relation to the cost of goods and services to come about.   

 

Another problem which could upset the economies was large scale trade over great distances and/or between different nations. There was great danger from bands of thieves on land or pirates when shipping gold over bodies of water.  A safe way had to be found to ship gold. 

 

During the late Middle Ages different cities, city-states, provinces, and countries became known for producing certain products.  These were desired throughout Europe.  Also some of the Italian city-states, after gaining control of the Mediterranean Sea, gained a monopoly of trade with the East for spices and other products.  (It was the search for a new route to the East that brought about Columbus’ expedition.)  This and other factors brought about a need for the safe transfer of specie over long distances.  In addition the breakdown of Feudalism and the rise of Kings brought about a necessity for the availability of large amounts of money for the payment of armies and other large scale projects.

 

To offset these economic needs there arose in various cities: first in the Germanies and then in the Italian city-states merchant families who eventually traded in money as a commodity.  These became the merchant bankers of the Hanseatic League and the Italian city-states.  They set up branches of their banks in different countries which allowed for immediate transfers of gold; and they became in many cases the new nobility: the merchant princes.  Of the Medici family of Italy two of the women became queens in France and one of the Medici became a pope.  Cosimo, the founder of the family had been a money lender whose symbol of trade was three brass balls.

 

From the Italian Renaissance on (Fourteenth Century) banking was fully developed with the banking families, in many instances, ruling the Italian city-states.  The goods of the East came to Europe by way of the eastern Mediterranean, through the Italian city-states, and on to the general population of the continent.  The fleets of ships plying that sea were controlled by the merchants of the city-states; who also controlled banking and, among other enterprises, made high interest loans to the emerging kings.

 

It was the potential profits from the trade that caused the new nations like Spain, Portugal, England, and France to explore, searching for a new route to the East.  This was the justification for sailing west to get to Asia and thus discovering the Americas.  Prince Henry of Portugal began sending expeditions south, exploring Africa trying to find a river crossing Africa west to east.  Eventually one of the expeditions rounded that continent and was able to bring back to Europe a cargo of spices worth many times the value of the ship and cost of the expedition.  Portugal controlled that trade for about fifty years. 

 

With the new routes and the emergence of pirates in the eastern Mediterranean, Italy lost control of that body of water and the trade and profits moved to the new emerging nations.  Incidentally the Renaissance now became the Northern Renaissance and banking and trade moved to these countries.

 

Money, during this period, remained as it had always been: equal in value to the goods and services for which it was exchanged.  Spain’s looting of the gold from the New World and having it pass directly into the European economy brought about a 90 year period of inflation in the Sixteenth Century but did not change the concept of value for value.  Actually by making gold more plentiful and less expensive it allowed for a more rapid economic growth.

 

With the coming of the wonders of the Industrial Revolution (the development of machines going from wood to metal, transportation: put a steam engine on wheels and you have a train, advances in medicine: ever increasing abilities to fight the assorted diseases, phenomenal population growth, advances in metallurgy, gas and electric engines, etc., etc.) the nations of the planet underwent massive changes: national populations went from the low millions to the high millions approaching and exceeding in one or two cases a billion people.

 

As we moved into the Twentieth Century (in addition to the major wars which wiped out millions) with the tremendous growth of business, of  the needs for ever increasing goods and services there were not enough precious metals to allow for an exchange of goods and services based upon value for value.  For this and other reasons in 1929 we have the Great Depression.

 

Paper money when it was first used consisted of silver and gold certificates which supposedly could be exchanged for actual specie at any time at one’s bank.  (However, if everyone were to do it at the same time there would be a run on the banks and they might well become bankrupt because there was never enough metal to satisfy everyone’s needs.)  In point of fact the Industrial nations eventually got off the direct gold standard by collecting and storing the gold bullion and printing paper money supposedly based upon the value of this stored bullion.  Silver coins would maintain a certain amount of precious metal for a while.  Later in the Twentieth Century virtually all nations will go off the gold standard basing the value of the money on the prestige of the particular country. The remaining silver coins became copper sandwiches.  By the beginning of the Twenty-first Century money is, in all cases, devoid of any precious metal or anything else of real value except the credit of the nation issuing it.

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Since 2008, when the United States went through what is generally called today The Great Recession the country has been recovering from what could have easily been The Greatest Depression in its history.  This economic condition had been building rapidly since the presidency of Ronald Reagan in the 1980s, when all government restrictions on trade, many of which were developed by the Roosevelt administration during the Great Depression, had been done away with by the Reagan administration.  The banking industry in the country had a free hand to do whatever they wanted.  And what they wanted was to increase their profits astronomically.

 

The banking industry convinced a large percentage of homeowners to turn their homes into bank accounts by a process of continually taking equity funds out of their homes.  They did this by constantly refinancing their properties.  In the process of doing this the paper value of the homes continually increased.  Presumably people were spending what they believed was their never ending increases.

 

This became rampart from the Reagan administration on.  By 2007 the oncoming crash was apparent but the banking industry was in denial.  At that point mortgage refinancing was raised to 125% of the appraised value of the home.  In 2008 the crash came and the Housing Industry collapsed.  Many of the banking houses were overextended and also at the point of collapse or bankruptcy. 

 

Since the basic financial structure of the entire economy or nation is based upon the banking structure and their functioning the Bush administration in 2008 lent large amounts to the banks.  This, however, was not enough money and the incoming Obama administration had to make more massive loans to the banking houses in order to save them.  The Obama administration also set conditions about massive remunerations to executives which the Bush people had not done.

All of this was in 2008 and 2009.  The trillions of dollars the Federal Government spent at this time saved the country from going into a more massive depression than that of 1929.  In fact we would still be coming out of it if the government had not jumped in. 

 

What emerged instead has been called The Great Recession.  In 2009 the unemployment rate had risen to 7.6%.  By 2010 it had reached 9.8%.  Thereafter it began to fall, reaching 4.6% by November of 2016.

 

In this process millions of people were underwater in their homes, suddenly owing more on the house than it was worth.  The banks, with aid from the government, largely recovered, with some being taken over by other banking houses.  Even with virtually no regulation some of the banking actions were illegal.  No one went to jail.  Instead the banks paid fines, which taken together were in the billions of dollars. The banks eventually repaid their government loans and executive pay rose to new heights.

 

We are still in a recession, with unemployment at the tail end of December 2016 at 4.5%.  For recovery, on the business model to occur, the range of people not working would have to reach 2.5%.  Is that a future possibility with President Donald Trump?  Probably not.  Since the Republican image of creating jobs has nothing to do with current levels of economic understanding.  They believe that jobs are created by doing away with government regulation.  It would seem that by their way of thinking as pollution increases and so do jobs.