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posted by martyb on Friday December 11 2015, @05:50AM   Printer-friendly
from the pandora's-box dept.

The U.S. Constitution has 27 amendments; each was proposed by Congress and ratified by the states.

However, the Constitution sets forth another procedure, never before used, for amending the Constitution. At the request of two thirds of the states, a constitutional convention would be held, at which amendments could be proposed. Any proposals would become part of the Constitution if three fourths of the states ratified them, either at state conventions or in the state legislatures.

Currently, 27 of the needed 34 states have petitioned Congress for a constitutional convention, for the ostensible purpose of writing a balanced-budget amendment (BBA). However, the convention might propose other changes in addition or instead of a BBA—even a total rewrite of the Constitution—if 38 states agreed, the changes would become law.

In November, legislators from 30 states met in Salt Lake City to discuss the matter.

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  • (Score: 1) by khallow on Sunday December 13 2015, @05:15AM

    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Sunday December 13 2015, @05:15AM (#275688) Journal

    Corporations have too much control and the public not enough so lets just make it a free for all so they can get even more since they have the power to do so?

    Well, there is a case to be made that government does provide a counterweight. But is that actually happening? I think a huge part of the problem here is that the vast amount of public spending aligns businesses and other important categories of human endeavors (such as education and medicine) with government interests and increased public spending.

    For example, in academia, public funds are a huge part of almost all schools' budgets. I think it comes as no surprise that academia is as a result heavily into advocacy for government spending on the public good to the point that conservative and religious viewpoints are remarkably scarce []. Their dependency has shaped their beliefs. A similar thing happens for military hardware companies. They are going to be strong supporters of defense spending and a strong military.

    Regulatory capture is another example. People complain of the regulators being captured by business, but it goes the other way as well. For example, when one of the worst laws of modern times, ITAR [] (International Traffic in Arms Regulations) was passed, many aerospace companies were against it due to the silly burdens it caused. But now that they have paid the price, they support it, since it's another large barrier to entry by small aerospace competitors.

    A final example is of the vast number of people supporting Obamacare only because it allows them to get medical treatment. We have this strong tendency to believe things that benefit us are morally right and necessary to our society. Similarly, every bit of spending by government generates a constituency which will defend that spending.

    And I think that leads to the fundamental weakness of democracies. Everyone is fine with eliminating other peoples' sugar, but not their own. That's why we don't have strong public support for fighting corruption. That's why we don't have strong public support for campaign finance reform and related issues. Enough people are in on it. I will admit that the same thing which cripples corruption fighting also cripples government reduction.

    The USA DOES have a problem with bloated government, but the answer is not simply "less".

    Will, you at least grant that government reduction is a very big part of answering that problem?

    To elaborate on another key disagreement, I don't think that business contributions are corruption. They can be, but it remains that like any other entity in the US, businesses routinely have interests (especially in today's intrusive and encompassing governments) in front of various politicians and bureaucracies. Thus, they (via the First Amendment) have the right to speak about and defend, via lobbying and campaign donations, their interests. Second, it is routine for the most knowledgeable parties in a technical matter involving a business sector, to be the businesses themselves. That will lead to some crossover between the business world and the government-side regulatory world. Finally, I don't buy that everyone's opinion is equal. A business that supports thousands of workers should have more weight in policy decisions involving their business than thousands of deadbeats who can't support themselves. And money in politics is a good way to make that happen.

  • (Score: 2) by Mr Big in the Pants on Sunday December 13 2015, @05:38AM

    by Mr Big in the Pants (4956) on Sunday December 13 2015, @05:38AM (#275693)

    "Well, there is a case to be made that government does provide a counterweight. But is that actually happening? "
    100% agree. And no its not. In less dysfunctional countries (mine, NZ, being one example) this does not happen. If the government tries some BS, they get eaten alive and they get kicked out. Worse for them, we have the MMP system of voting so EVERY vote counts.

    It is far from perfect because humans are involved and has a few downsides too (govts are more scared of back lash) but overall it is far superior to the public being mostly ignored.

    "Their dependency has shaped their beliefs. "
    It only shapes their beliefs if your government has their sticky fingers in it too much and is micro managing. Education in america is a good example. They are given no money, FORCED to use a psychotic testing system .
    Our system has the education dept (the experts), teachers unions (and they are not evil!?), school boards of parents, working together and having input. Yes they argue and debate but that is healthy and that is why NZ has excellant student outcomes and when you factor in bang for buck we are head and shoulders above the US for example.
    The current tory govt. attempted to stick their beaks in and change our system to be the psychotic US system (with no justification) with charter schools added in also. It was a PR disaster for them with much gnashing of teeth. While they got some stadardised testing in (because they railroaded it through) it had lost the significance they had intended. (i.e. schools teaching to the test and ignoring everything else)

    "People complain of the regulators being captured by business, but it goes the other way as well. "
    Yes, which is why you need the process to be bullet proof, research based and open to discussion, comment and critique. Are you suggesting just removing the laws and letting shit just happen?! Seriously?

    Basically what I am saying here is the PROCESS you have needs fixing. Unfortunately people have been asleep at the wheel so long the corruption has become deeply institutionalised and until THAT is fixed, you can forget about the rest.

    "Will, you at least grant that government reduction is a very big part of answering that problem?"
    I hesitate to agree to such a broad statement. I would agree a shit ton of money is wasted. Should it just be eliminated altogether? Possibly, but how much? For example one of the first things I would do (realising what I think matters not one iota) is cut some pork and fix the education system first. Without that, a country is fucked.

    "I don't think that business contributions are corruption. "

    They are and demonstratably so. They give power to special interests. Democracy is the opposite of given all the say to those with money...especially when they only account for "1%".