Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Disgruntled Republican on Primary Day... in California...

In North Korea, Kim Jong Il seems to be trying to solidify his third son's chances of becoming the next leader of the northern half of the peninsula. However, in California, today is primary day. ...though I will not go out and vote. There is that poll question that asks Americans if they believe that the "Country is headed in the right direction," but there is no such poll that asks if either of the two mainstream political parties are headed in the right direction.

California Republicans called my cellphone and left a message a couple weeks ago asking if I could volunteer in the campagain against California's Proposition 14, which changes election rules to one where it would no longer be the case of first nominating a candidate for a political party and then holding elections, but to one where there would be two general elections with the second being a face-off between the two candidates receiving the most votes. It's not about time or so per se, but rather, I think Proposition 14 might not be a bad idea -- of course, I think it's better to bring about a new constitution in California and eliminate these annoying propositions that while they seem good on paper, they suffer from the Carpool Lane Syndrome. For example, just as people thought term limits would discourage corruption in Sacramento, people found out that term limits led to a more ineffective government and actually ended up hurting California by continually trading experienced legislators for those that have no experience. So, while it may sound good in principle, in practice it just doesn't or won't or hasn't worked -- the proposition system, carpool lanes, the flat tax, repealing the 14th amendment, tea party movement, the reform party, post-World War II Great Britain's nationlization of key industries, the devolution process in Great Britain, etc... well, actually I'd think making changes to the 14th amendment would not be such a bad thing... -- if it were just, well, even only remotely politically possible...

Well, I didn't call back. But, if there was a Gallup Poll done on whether the Republican Party was headed in the right direction, then I would simply answer, "No." What is wrong with this Tea Party Movement? This blog has for the most part strayed away from domestic U.S. politics that do not pertain to international issues, but in general I'm not a big fan of going backwards. It actually seems to be a giant step backwards. I'm not a big fan of a flat tax either -- no matter how fair it might first appear on paper. But, if you think about it for a second, how much more important is an extra $1 to somebody in the top 1% against those in the bottom 1% of the income bracket. Is that really a "fair" tax? Of course, the extent to which a tax should be progressive is a legitimate question, but going to a flat tax sounds, well, outright byzantine.

With respect to amending the constitution so that children of illegal immigrants should not be granted automatic citizenship, I am in favor of, but I don't believe it is the most important issue in the United States right now and I believe North Korea has infinitely better odds of winning the World Cup than an amendment to the Constitution being passed right now.

This reminds of me of the American Enterprise Institute's paper that speaks of a 70-30 divide in a new cultural war in which 30% of the country or a minority are taking the rest of the country towards a Statist, European welfare state. While I have no doubt that President Obama -- such as his formal request for a modified line-item veto -- has tried to strengthen the executive branch of the presidency, it is not at all a new phenomenon. I mean it wasn't until the Civil War until the power of the Federal Government truly superceded that of State Governments and the concept of Nullification was discarded.

It has taken a number of calamities and LBJ's Great Society for the federal government to have grown to be the size it is today -- about a fifth of the economy -- and -- I'm dithering here on exact dates-- and not too long since a rather liberal interpretation of the interstate commerce clause -- such as the end of segregation -- led to even more newly found powers of the federal government. But, importantly, what seems clear is there is a general trend as to the reasons why the federal government has grown to be as large as it is now, such as massive income inequality, low perceived social mobility, and a potentially dangerous concentration of weath in the Gilded Age, unequal treatment on the basis of sex and race, and, of course, the mother of all textbook examples that is the Great Depression.

And, while it might make sense to argue about certain aspects of what legislation should or should not be passed today or the extent to how large the United States government should be and the role it should have -- to look at the federal government and blindly say it's time to head back towards how the U.S. federal government was in the 19th century in a 21st century world seems to be a sheer exercise in stupidity and particularly dangerous for any significant minority in the United States to ascrie to. And, by actually blinding so many in ideology, it hurts the rest of the "70%" of the country by forcing a system that cannot bring about change -- not unlike the far right or the Zionist movement in Israel or Japan's far right with respect to issues pertaining to North Korea. It seems the political party I belong to is being held hostage by a very loud wing of the party -- not unlike Japan's DPJ, which was held hostage to the Okinawa base relocation issue and led to the downfall of yet another Japanese Prime Minister -- to an impractical ideology rather than trying to actually engage Democrats on the relative role that government should actually have on a pragmatic basis.

With that said, I am pleased with President Obama's decision to return to a traditional, realpolitik view of the world. Countries, principally those that are communist in name, have not yet come to respect other countries in the way that people respect each other at the individual and communal level; they only respect hard power and the United States shouldn't handicap herself by blindly following ideology, but should base decisions primarily by following what is in the best interests of the United States and in a fashion that ascribes more to pragmatism than to a John Bolton while trying to abide by principles to the extent to which the United States can afford.

Anyways, Joe will not be voting in the primaries today and he is unhappy with the Republican party. Of course, California is a mess, and somebody needs to take on these powerful unions  -- namely those that represent teachers -- and fix schools for one. Also, any talk of whether input based school policies need to be grounded on a budget that does not rank 47th or so out of 50th on a per capita basis in the country. And, this concept of a supermajority needs to, well, go the way of Nullification. Partitioning or gerrymandering needs to be toned down. I'm itching to say other unions as well, but I'd rather not.

In summary, California should not be held hostage to a fickle electorate that can so whimfully change or pass laws or even recall governors through the ballot initiative process, where lawmakers in Sacramento have so little power in the form of discretionary spending and have to pass laws in a hostile climate (as a result of gerrymandering) under an impossible set of rules (supermajority).  Basically, we need a governor that Arnold Schwarzenegger was supposed to be the moment he got elected. And, not this unworkable ideology that is the tea party... It's absolutely amazing how California is home to so many productive industries from Silicon Valley to Hollywood to a transportation industry (40% of American imports go through one of the Los Angeles ports) to an aerospace industry to a fairly large light manufacturing industry (more light manufactoring jobs in Los Angeles than in Michigan), etc etc with this type of government. I do like the talk of a new Pac-16 though. When there are demonstrations all over the state for school budget cuts, I can't believe the tea party is even getting press.

Talk about the disenfrachised 70%...

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