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Friday, July 01, 2011

Oopsie

Hmm. European manufacturing slows. Manufacturing in most areas is slowing. Later today we get ISM manufacturing.

The classic Fed answer is to lower rates, but wait - rates are as low as they can go.... Trichet of the ECB insists they are raising.

In the meantime, Italy is cracking down on its deficit again. The US Fed really needs to raise, but it won't.


Construction value for May showed another decline. The bright spot here is that we are about at trough - this really can't fall much more; value of construction is about around 2000 levels, nominally. But this number is also worse than it seems, because prices are rising so there is some inflation masking a deeper decline in activity. YoY total construction for May fell 7.1%, and total construction for April was revised to be less than March. May's total fell a seasonally adjust 0.6 from April. YTD YoY construction fell 6.3%, which is why I keep saying that this sector isn't going to help the economy in 2011.


My biggest disappointment this week is in ISM manufacturing. The headline is great - an increase from 53.5 to 55.3. But scrolling down the components, inventories jumped from 48.7 to 54.1, and customer inventories corrected from 39.5 to 47. These two numbers alone would suggest that growth for the next few months will be constrained; order backlogs slipped into contraction, moving from 50.5 to 49.0, which doesn't help the picture. One finds oneself muttering "final demand, final demand", and then looking at commodities prices.


So it's back to where I started the year - everything depends on cars! June sales (projected about 12.08 SAAR) and June ending inventories at dealers mean a great deal right now.


Here is where the brilliance of the Pelosi Congress really kicks in. I know, I know, given our ballooning public debt, Congress really can't afford to go Keynsian on us because right after that, we go all Greek. But according to the Sixth Circuit, the Commerce Clause means that Congress doesn't need to spend federal money to stimulate. All it has to do is pass a law mandating that the public spends their money.


Clearly, the solution is for Congress to pass a law mandating that persons with a net worth above a certain amount must buy a vehicle from either GM or Chrysler (depending on which company pays Congress Critters the most) by September 1st. This will also solve certain problems relating to reelection funds, so it is, as Casey Serin would opine, a "Win-Win" situation.


Don't think it won't happen, folks. It will.


Enjoy your Independence Day! I plan to spend it writing up my suggestion for the next Constitutional Amendment - this time I think we will have to go the 3/4ths convention route in Article V.



Comments:
I've got the perfect Amendment--simple, clear, effective:

"And this time we mean it!"
 
Who needs amendments when the laws can be
interpreted to what ever is politically expedient ?

Sporkfed
 
They can just do it like our City Council. The Feds are doing a 4billion dollar bridge over the Columbia River, to replace the one we currently use. We voted down light rail several years ago and voters expected to get to weigh in on the new bridge. BUT, the city council already has their plan, which includes light rail AND the citizens won't get any imput on the bridge until AFTER work is already starting.

They did manage to find time and money to have all the engineers and project managers get together with the leaders of the Native American tribes (none of which were actually LIVING here) to hear about how much this area means to them. And they will be doing an environmental impact assessment, which would be great except that they are replacing a bridge. It is one of the worst boondoggles I've ever seen. (I won't go into the current mayor who ran against tolls until elected and now says they will have tolls even after we pay for the bridge.)
 
my amendments (well the first five anyways -- foo6 is taking some time):

foo1:

The sixteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.

foo2:

The seventeenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.

foo3:

Section 1. Willful violation of the United States Constitution by any member of the United States federal government is punishable by death. Violations include but are not limited to: Submitting unconstitutional laws to Congress, Congress members voting for unconstitutional laws, Presidents signing unconstitutional laws, and members of the executive branch enforcing unconstitutional laws.

Section 2. Legal prosecution for such violation may be brought to the Supreme Court by any citizen of the United States. No citizen may be denied legal standing when the charge is willful constitutional violation.

foo4:

Section 1. Congress shall pass no law and the executive shall issue no order prohibiting a state from seceding from the Union.

Section 2. Upon succession of any state from the Union, the federal government is prohibited from sending any weapons or other unnecessary items into the state. If the state allows agents of the federal government to enter the state to retrieve property of the federal government, the state may inspect any personnel and moving equipment, the state may require that such personnel remain under state escort at all times, and the state may limit the number and type of such personnel and moving equipment which may be in the state at any given time.

foo5:

Section 1. The United States federal government is not allowed to own any land or permanent fixtures.

Section 2. Congress shall pass no law and the executive shall issue no order prohibiting actions in any state or any portion of any state which are not prohibited for all portions of all states.

Section 3. Full ownership of all previously declared "national parks" and all other federal lands and permanent fixtures is hereby transferred to the states in which they reside.

Section 4. Upon succession of any state from the Union, the federal government may demand the refund of the remainder of any lease paid to the state by the federal government on a prorated basis. The federal government may at its discretion use boycotts to enforce such a demand. The federal government is not allowed to enforce this demand by any other means. Means which are prohibited include but are not limited to: Armed conflict, Blockade or any other interference with normal traffic

Section 5. The federal government is not allowed to enter into any lease agreement with a state without the voluntary consent of the given state's legislative body.

Section 6: In matters concerning violations of this article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States or in any matters concerning the violation of constitutional rights of seceded states, any citizen of said seceded state may bring charges as per foo3 Section 2.
 
Foo - why repeal the 17th?

I would think the state legislatures would be selling senatorships at auction. At least in Illinois.
 
Teri - it is amazing how much time and energy it takes to ride herd on even a measly little city council.

Politics = corruption; that's why the balance of powers is so important.
 
The House represents the people in Congress. The Senate is *supposed* to represent the states. Once the states lost representation, centralization of power in the federal government became pretty much inevitable and will be very difficult to undo.

From: http://www.tenthamendmentcenter.com/2008/10/24/repeal-the-17th-amendment/

"This would reinstate the states' linkage to the federal political process and would, thereby, have the effect of elevating the present status of the state legislatures from that of lobbyists, to that of a partner in the federal political process. The state legislatures would then have the ability to decentralize power when appropriate.

It would give state legislatures direct influence over the selection of federal judges and the jurisdiction of the federal judiciary and much greater ability to modify the power of the federal judiciary. This structure would allow the flow of power between the states and the federal government to ebb and flow as the needs of our federal republic change."

Keep in mind that the federal government "serves at the pleasure" of the states. It did not exist until the states created it, and its only power derives from that agreement between the states (the Constitution). Should the states choose to dissolve that agreement, the states continue to exist just fine but the federal government goes "poof" (in theory -- in practice they probably attempt a military coup). The almost complete cutting-out of the states from the entire federal political process was one hell of a mistake -- made by the same progressive idiots who brought us the income tax (which also undermined states' rights) and prohibition.


"I would think the state legislatures would be selling senatorships at auction."

I think it's easier to buy off two people (a state's senators) then to buy off the majority of a state's legislature (over multiple years so you get both senators). Sure, the most corrupt state in the Union will probably do something stupid -- and by doing so temporarily lose its representation at the federal level. That doesn't mean all of the other states should lose their representation as well.
 
Yeah, I'll admit it does require effort to even view the city council meetings :) The interesting thing is, we have a council woman that pointed out that people don't want light rail and that folks wanted a say in the bridge. This is the same council woman that made news several months back, by shouting at one of the people ranting against the bridge tolls. I'm not sure if she just couldn't take it any more back then or if she really started listening. She seems to be the only person with integrity on the city council.
 
Teri,

In Australia Prime Minister Gillard has taken her party from a comfortable majority to possible third-party status by first promising no carbon tax, then declaring it her top priority. But in an urban area, with its concentration of liberal voters, you're likely screwed.
 
As for proposed amendments:

(1) Not sure how to word it, BUT: The federal government should NOT be in the business of handing out money to ANYBODY for ANYTHING (except payroll for its own personnel).

(2) The federal govt should NOT be in the business of "redressing wrongs" that may have been perpetrated by one group against another beyond some statute of limitations, say 10 years. (So, no affirmative action, no reparations, not any kind of "aww, their grandparents were mean to your grandparents, let's throw other people's money at you to make it all better".)

(3) Any bill proposed in either House of Congress shall specify ONE topic in its title and it shall address ONLY THAT ONE TOPIC.
No sneaking-in of student loan business in a bill that has to do with health care, for example.

(4) Any bill proposed in either House of Congress shall be less than 500 pages in length.

(5) ALL members of Congress SHALL BY GOD READ *EACH* *BILL* under consideration, BEFORE voting on it, on pain of death --and I do mean DEATH. I don't care if the Speaker of the House has to go meet the Pope; if the legislature gets a huge complex bill at 9 in the morning and the damn thing gets passed by noon, I want every SOB who voted "Aye" taken out and shot. NO trial; it's self-evident that they did NOT take their oath of office seriously, and for such dereliction, it's blindfold-and-last-cigarette time.


(Can you tell I harbor something of a grudge against the 111th Congress, & especially the way they got their bills passed?)
 
A Nonny Mouse,
I like your thought processes. The question is, how do we get the scumb, er congress crittters to pass such common-sensical, power- limiting provisons?
 
A_Nonny_Mouse #3:

I'm sure lots of people have thought of this. However, as it stands this is fatally flawed. Politics (even the noncorrupt kind) often requires compromise. Members of congress need the flexibility to do a bit of "horse trading". However, rather than just stay with the mess we've got, what we could do is basically a combination of your #3 and my idea here:

http://maxedoutmama.blogspot.com/2011/06/just-reading-along.html

(it's the two paragraphs starting at "There is a valid way to do things though")

So that would mean each bill has one main topic, but can also have $s shifting between states. That would "grease the wheels" sufficiently for compromise to happen, and would still leave it very clear to constituents what the bill is about (e.g., we got this and paid $X for it, or we're going to put up with this other thing but at least we got $Y in exchange).

This would have to be an exception to your amendment #1.


A_Nonny_Mouse #4:

500 pages? That's way too long. Maybe just make whoever proposes a bill have to pay $1000 per page out their own pocket? (I don't know how to solve this problem. It's very hard to define "all due complexity -- but no more!" in a formal way.)


A_Nonny_Mouse #5:

I thought of that one a long time ago -- but mine is different than yours. In my version it's AOK to not read a bill if you vote "Nay!". You only get executed if you vote "Yeah!" without reading the whole thing. You don't necessarily have to read the whole bill to know it's got bad stuff in it that you would NEVER agree to -- so it's OK to vote "no" without reading the whole thing. Plus voting "no" is the standard "do no harm" vote. (My favorite DC politician is known as "Dr. No" because he votes "no" so often.)


Jimmy, congress doesn't necessarily have any say in the matter. The states can push amendments through without the permission of congress. (MOM even gave the link to the specific Article of the Constitution that lets the states do this right in her post.)
 
On the dollars shifting between states thing...

The amendment would have to specify that only senators or representatives of state Z are allowed to put "state Z is to pay $X..." into a bill. And maybe the total $ amount should have to be signed off on by the given state's legislature as well? Anyways, the point here is to completely eliminate the possibility that states A, B and C can gang up on state Z and write themselves up a bill saying state Z will give them all $ and then outvote state Z 3 to 1.

(Also it looks like you were already making the yeah/nay distinction -- I just missed it.)
 
Snorting with laughter over a couple of these comments.

Thus justice of them is shown by the fact that Congress is only now BEGINNING to figure out what was in the health care reform bill. Their confusion is astonishing to behold.

A "pass this 1,000 pages now, we'll fix it later" strategy has consequences that will create a legacy of shame.

For example, TPTB have only just discovered that beginning in 2014, they just paid a lot of older couples to stop working early with free health insurance - just one of the reasons why the cost calculations on the bill are completely flawed.

Something even more hilarious is that health insurance companies and health care companies are buying up hospitals and doctors' practices en masse. Under the reform bill, they can then form these owned entities into ACOs and get paid for not treating people.

In a decade, a lot will have changed about the people's relationship to Congress. There are moments in history that can't be avoided, and this is one of them. In a decade we will either be a hyper-Socialist state, or a much less Socialist state.

It will be interesting to watch this unfold.
 
I'm going to agree with foo on the 17th.

Governorships turn over a lot more than senatorships. I'm sure there are other examples but Ted Kennedy would never have lasted as long as he did with governor-appointed senatorships; MA has had some Repub governors during that time and Kennedy would have been replaced.

As bad as it is, selling a senatorial seat is nowhere as corrupt as the gerrymandering of the House districts. Individual corruption is a no-no, but group/institutional corruption goes on without a hitch.
 
Charles, before the 17th amendment senators were not selected by governors but rather by state legislatures. Governors could only do a temporary appointment, and only if a new senator was needed (e.g., a senator died mid-term) while the state legislature was not in session.

The idea isn't to make it more likely that any given senator gets swapped out but for senators to owe their position to the state legislature. In principle this makes them less inclined to arbitrarily take power (the ability to make various types of law) from the state legislature they directly represent and hand it to the federal government (by enacting federal laws which restrict what states are allowed to do).

Note that a senator's allegiance to the state legislature will be rather weakened if that senator knows that his current term will be his last. That is one reason why term limits in the senate (at least if the 17th is repealed) would likely be a bad idea. You really want the senator to spend most of his last term believing he still has to please the state legislature rather then spending it acting out his whims
 
addendum for foo4:

Section 3. Upon succession, federal personnel already in the state must (upon request from state authorities) surrender any weapons they are carrying, allow a weapon search of their person, and allow themselves to be escorted out of the state. Access to formerly federal buildings within the state must be granted to state authorities. If either of these are violated after being presented with an official copy of a letter of succession from the state's legislature, or no federal personal is available to grant access, the state authorities may use any necessary force required to disarm and gain entrance.


foo7:

Any person who has ever been employed as a lawyer or a judge at any level of government is ineligible to serve in the House, Senate or in the Office of the President or Vice President.

(The intent here is to help checks-and-balances actually function by making it less likely that the same school of thought permeates both the judicial branch and the executive/legislative branches. That and we have way too many people writing laws who know very little other than the ins and outs of the legal system. It's a similar problem to teachers whose primary qualification to teach is some generic "education" training rather than a strong command of the subject matter they are supposed to be teaching.)


foo8:

(Don't want to spend the time trying to word it right, but...) The federal government doesn't get to discriminate against (or for) any group based on race, sex, age, favorite color, preferred private activities, etc. etc. This includes but is not limited to: They don't get to make speech illegal based on what group says it and/or what group is spoken about. They don't get to say who your friends must/can't be based on groups. They don't get to say who you can (or have to) do business with based on groups. They don't get to hand out money or other favors (or collect taxes) based on groups. They don't get to make the punishment of crimes depend on either the group of the culprit(s) or the group of the victim(s). They also don't get to coerce businesses or state/local governments to do any of this discrimination -- e.g., they don't get to force banks to make bad loans just because the members of some group happen to be statistically skewed towards being higher risk borrowers.

(Rights belong to individuals. Granting power/favors/rights/etc to one group can't be done without denying people outside that group their rights. Some stuff that uses arbitrary ages as a rather poor proxy for competence [such as legal voting age] would instead have to be changed to somewhat more directly address the issue of competence.)
 
Foo:

The 17th amendment was passed because of how corrupt the appointing of Senators under the old system got. Don't expect its repeal to fix anything, because it won't.
 
John, don't you know not to throw the baby out with the bathwater? There was a lot of corruption that was caused by an unfortunate compromise made when the constitution was created. That compromise was to give each state an equal number of votes in the Senate. The reason this results in corruption should be obvious -- if you're trying to buy a Senator (or buy yourself a seat on the Senate) and you want to spend the least amount of money to make that happen, you head straight on over to the smallest states in the Union. Buying off Rhode Island gets you just as many Senate votes as buying off California, and one of those two is going to go for a lot cheaper price.
So, with no further ado,
I give unto you,
an updated foo2:

Section 1. The seventeenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.

Section 2. The number of members in the Senate any given state is allowed is henceforth to be calculated by the same method used to determine the state's allowed number of members in the House of Representatives.


(Unfortunately I don't know how to get this one ratified... Getting 3/4s of the states to agree to it when it means close to 1/2 the states are going to end up with less representation on a relative basis in the Senate is a tough sell.)
 
addendum for foo4:

Section 3. Upon succession, federal personnel already in the state must (upon request from state authorities) surrender any weapons they are carrying, allow a weapon search of their person, and allow themselves to be escorted out of the state. Access to formerly federal buildings within the state must be granted to state authorities. If either of these are violated after being presented with an official copy of a letter of succession from the state's legislature, or no federal personal is available to grant access, the state authorities may use any necessary force required to disarm and gain entrance.


foo7:

Any person who has ever been employed as a lawyer or a judge at any level of government is ineligible to serve in the House, Senate or in the Office of the President or Vice President.

(The intent here is to help checks-and-balances actually function by making it less likely that the same school of thought permeates both the judicial branch and the executive/legislative branches. That and we have way too many people writing laws who know very little other than the ins and outs of the legal system. It's a similar problem to teachers whose primary qualification to teach is some generic "education" training rather than a strong command of the subject matter they are supposed to be teaching.)


foo8:

(Don't want to spend the time trying to word it right, but...) The federal government doesn't get to discriminate against (or for) any group based on race, sex, age, favorite color, preferred private activities, etc. etc. This includes but is not limited to: They don't get to make speech illegal based on what group says it and/or what group is spoken about. They don't get to say who your friends must/can't be based on groups. They don't get to say who you can (or have to) do business with based on groups. They don't get to hand out money or other favors (or collect taxes) based on groups. They don't get to make the punishment of crimes depend on either the group of the culprit(s) or the group of the victim(s). They also don't get to coerce businesses or state/local governments to do any of this discrimination -- e.g., they don't get to force banks to make bad loans just because the members of some group happen to be statistically skewed towards being higher risk borrowers.

(Rights belong to individuals. Granting power/favors/rights/etc to one group can't be done without denying people outside that group their rights. Some stuff that uses arbitrary ages as a rather poor proxy for competence [such as legal voting age] would instead have to be changed to somewhat more directly address the issue of competence.)
 
The classic Fed answer is to lower rates, but wait - rates are as low as they can go....

Hate to disagree, but that's not how the Fed sees it - the Fed can spur inflation thus creating a negative real interest rate. In other words, QE3 is still a possibility. The fact that inflation is a horrible thing actually is considered by the Fed as part of their mandate, not their entire one. The Fed's political masters, the Congress would probably be ok with pushing inflation up if they got the idea in their heads that it would get unemployment down. Their goal is to win the next year's election.
 
foo, you are correct as far as history goes, that is why I suggest it be a governor appointed seat. There are state reps that have been in office for decades - in Illinois someone like Mike Madigan would have more power than the governor.
 
"that is why I suggest it be a governor appointed seat."

But I don't think that solves the centralization of power problem (where the federal government is exercising much more control over the states than is healthy). The power in question derives from writing laws. The governor doesn't get to legislate, so the governor doesn't have the same motivation to keep lawmaking powers at the state level.

Also note that the corruption continues to this day -- the 17th didn't get rid of it, it just made it harder for people to see because they are now part of it. It doesn't matter whether those seeking power are buying off (or lobbying, brain-washing via advertisements, or whatever) legislatures or governors or the populace. The larger effect a fixed amount of money/effort has on smaller states will always make them a favorite tool of Senate corruption so long as those states wield such disproportionate representation in the Senate.

Furthermore, I think the corruption is probably worse in the Governor-appointed case than the legislature-appointed case due to only having to buy off one person. It may be true that you tend to get a *different* corrupt outcome for every new governor, but that's not the same is cutting out or at least reducing the corruption.

Maybe this addition to foo2 would be satisfactory?:

Section 3. After the selection of a potential senator by the state's legislature: If the governor approves within 10 days, the selectee becomes a senator. If the governor rejects the selectee or 10 day pass without approval being granted, the selectee is no longer eligible for the Senate seat and term in question, and the process repeats with the state legislature selecting a new potential senator.


Getting foo2 ratified with "Section 2" intact would be even harder than I was thinking. Getting 3/4s of the states won't cut it, you need all of the states to be on board. The end of Article V of the Constitution reads:

"no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate."

It might be easier to just dissolve the Union and try again (or just wait for it to collapse under its own weight).
 
Be careful what you wish for, foo. The non-proportional representation in the Senate is the only reason we don't already live in a socialist country. Do you really think your ideas would stand a chance in a Union governed largely by California and New York?

Or are you actively wishing for total dissolution, since your secession clause would be the only recourse for flyover country?
 
The succession clause is intended to return participation in the Union to being voluntary. Many people such as Thomas Jefferson truly believed that's exactly what it was -- and that any state could leave at any time. The tyrant Lincoln had other ideas.

When participation is voluntary, then the Union either needs to serve the interests of the states, or states start to leave (and maybe form something better). This is similar to free market ideas where (ideally) a business either has to serve its customers or the customers will just go elsewhere. When interaction is truly voluntary, the federal government (or a business) must provide value and be a mutually beneficial partner rather than destroying value and being a parasite. (Ideally the federal government would not be in the business of seeking benefit for itself and would only serve the states. But realistically it is hard to avoid when the federal government is composed of individuals who due to their human nature will tend to seek benefit for themselves.)

It's also similar to people voting with their feet and moving from one state to another. And centralization of power at the federal level threatens to make such voting useless by homogenizing all of the states and leaving us with no choice (other than leaving the US completely -- and for individuals that may be no choice either because tyranny seems to be everywhere these days).

So I'm not "actively wishing for total dissolution". Instead, I believe simply having the option to secede will force the federal government to serve us much better than it has been, or risk finding itself without a job. I think that a credible risk of states leaving (with things set up so the federal government can not force them to stay or punish them for leaving) would prove to be a powerful motivator.
 
Foo - state senators are cheap.

Usually the oppo might criticize a governor, but it doesn't take much to buy anything from state senates.
 
You have to buy both houses of the state legislature, not just the state senate.

I'm working on the premise that the state legislature represents the interests of the state, and then giving that representation some voice at the federal level (as the framers intended). If the state legislature is corrupted so that it does not represent the state, then that state is screwed no matter who they send to DC. So if individual states have such problems, it behooves them to take action to correct that.

The 14th Amendment Section 1 kind of hoses things up for the states. It restricts states so they can no longer do things like have their own campaign finance laws -- if SCOTUS says corporations are "people" and have free speech and can spend however much they like buying politicians, the states get to just stand by and watch while they are corrupted. (It hoses things up in many other ways as well. For example, states should be able to choose whether they are a "guns for all" state or a "guns for none" state or something in between, and people can just choose which state they want to live in, or try to change the nature of their state if they prefer. But with the 14th/Section 1 in place the rule is now whatever SCOTUS says it is.)

Interesting... my reading of the 14th Amendment Section 3 indicates that we should be able to kick out most of the DC politicians and bar them from ever coming back without even needing to vote them out, because surely many of them have given "aid or comfort to the enemies" of the Constitution:

"Section 3. No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may, by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability."

Of course, if any of us actually try that we will be told we don't have legal standing (thus foo3 Section 2).
 
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