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Are Citizens losing touch with their Elected Federal Representatives? Yes indeed! And among the reasons are these: The number of Senators today is the same as when the Constitution was born. But our population has grown massively. For every Citizen, the Founders’ Senators had to work with, today’s Senators have 61 times that many. Our House Legislators have swollen to only 15 times as many, since in the 1800’s, the number of total Representatives was increased somewhat. So, it’s no wonder that Citizen-Congressional and Citizen-Presidential interaction is very limited. So is the answer to increase the size of Congress? Well, not to those who believe deeply that limited government is the best way for Citizens to avoid tyrannical governance. So, what’s the answer? This note argues that some structural reforms to our governance, reforms that exploits the new “digital age”, is a realistic and productive way to proceed. Fellow Citizens, what do you think?

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  1. 1. If you had lived in 1780, how many Citizens, on average, did each Senator have in his Constitutency - - compared to present times? Answer: in 1780, the average constituency was only about 1.6% of what is is today. That is, Senators today, on average, each have about 61 times as many Citizens to serve as in the Founders' years! The ratio for the U.S. House of Reps, is smaller - - each Rep having only to deal with about 15 times as many in present day! Nevertheless that amounts to 736,000 Citizens for each Representative. So, should we be surprised that Citizens often feel very isolated from their Federal Government? Clearly NOT! The question is what can we do about this? Well . . that's the subject of this article. What are your thoughts? Acknowledgement to Adobe Public Sector Blog, for the diagram at left : eingovernment/introducing- adobes-digital-government- survey/ AMERICA'S VANISHING GOVERNANCE PER INDIVIDUAL - - BY THE NUMBERS
  2. 2. TOPICS OF THIS NOTE SECTION #1 BRIEF BACKGROUND AND OVERVIEW • Some Numbers Regarding Our Governance • Some Examples of Government Misinformation Abuse SECTION #2 RATING OUR CURRENT GOVERNANCE • Some Potential Improvements SECTION #3 Three Elements of A Solution to Regain Citizen Control of Government • A Lesson From Britain's Tradition of "Prime Minister's Questions" (video clip) SECTION #4 RATIONALE FOR THE 3 PROPOSED SOLUTION ELEMENTS • Rationale Discussion • A Concluding Thought • A Concluding Video Clip • References AMERICA'S VANISHING GOVERNANCE-PER-INDIVIDUAL - - BY THE NUMBERS
  3. 3. The 2 charts at right give a clue: Here are plotted for both the U.S. Senate and House, the historical ratio of # of U.S. Citizens to their Congressional Reps. Since the Senate has been at 2 Senators per State from the beginning, this ratio has grown by a factor of 61. So each Senator today, must look after 61 times as many Constituents as those when the Nation was entering the 1800's. In the House, the ratio and its growth is smaller due to (i) the smaller constituency of each Rep. and (ii) that the total number of Reps grew somewhat over the 1800's. The ratio here is about 15. Hmmm! No wonder it's getting to be tougher for Citizens and their Federal Reps to truly communicate. No wonder, we see Lobbyists increasingly molding our National affairs. So the true task is not to add more Reps, but to significantly, rigorously and CONSTITUTIONALLY augment Citizen interaction with THEIR GOVERNMENT ! That's the message of this note, which offers 3 elements of a strong solution. SECTION #1 - BRIEF BACKGROUND AND OVERVIEW at least something is under control. BUT . . there are some adverse consequences too. The chart above shows U.S. population in 20 year increments from 1780 to present. Lots of good growth and that's helped push America into the top rung of global success. So why are we seeing, particularly in the last decade, such a disaster in our Federal governance? In the 220+ Years since our 1789 Constitution, the population of America has expanded considerably. But the numbers of our Congressional Reps have stayed relatively fixed. My first thoughts, as a Conservative, were: "Well,
  4. 4. President Obama in his Jan 12, 2016 State of the Union, claimed that if only the federal government would spend more taxpayer money (gleaned from higher taxes on fossil fuels), the government can “put tens of thousands of Americans to work building a 21st century transportation system.” But there are several implications here for the Citizens to weigh in on: (1) our total National budget is already seriously overspent (2) our taxes are already too high and are damaging economic health and jobs (3) “building infrastructure” is a very broad term, when most Citizens would likely agree that our interstate highway systems are specifically and seriously in need of repair and significant overcrowding. Americans rely on our Nation’s roads and bridges every day, yet Congressional inaction has led to longer commutes, more potholes and unsafe conditions,” said Marshall Doney, American Automobile Assocn. President and CEO. “Motorists are dissatisfied that our national leaders repeatedly have failed to meet the basic needs of drivers across the country.” The federal gas taxes that were originally intended to maintain the Interstate Highway System – a true national priority – are diverted to various special interests by Congress and federal bureaucrats. Over a quarter of gas taxes are siphoned to projects that are not proper federal priorities, such as local transit and bike-share programs, while a mere six percent goes to the actual construction of major projects. But, in contrast, Citizens believe America should focus scarce resources on enhancing mobility and relieving congestion so that American workers, businesses, and travelers all over the country can get where they need to go. The President & Congress Favor Themselves vs. The People's Constitution - - EXAMPLE A: SPENDING & TAXATION CHOICES SECTION #1 - BRIEF BACKGROUND AND OVERVIEW
  5. 5. In a misleading way, the President is right in his 2016 State of the Union when he says last year was the warmest year on record, but that data point doesn’t necessarily translate into increased "global warming". In making this claim, Obama was referring to a 2015 study released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA). But there are serious questions about the data driving that study and the conclusions drawn from it by politicians. Some of the weather stations that collect those measures are located in industrial areas, surrounded by buildings, parking lots, and other structures that retain heat and skew the data. For instance, the official weather station in Washington, D.C., is located at Reagan National Airport. As Patrick J. Michaels of the Cato Institute explains, that station produces an inaccurate weather report because it measures increased heat produced by “several hundred feet lower in elevation … the brick buildings [nearby], and the pavement of urban Washington.” Geography could also play a significant role in some NOAA’s dramatic numbers. The weather stations that provide the data for the report are not spread out.“These stations are not distributed in a regular, comprehensive geological pattern” notes David Kreutzer, a senior fellow in energy economics at The Heritage Foundation. As a result, he concludes that the data “doesn’t prove a climate crisis is evident.” This is further amplified by the error analysis of multiple NOAA/NASA data sets shown at right. Do Citizens really want major long-term decisions taken on a political whim, further undercut by skilled data analysis?? From: "2014: The Most Dishonest year on Record", Anthony Watts, Jan 20 2016. SECTION #1 - BRIEF BACKGROUND AND OVERVIEW The President & Congress Favor Themselves vs. The People's Constitution - - EXAMPLE B: DISHONESTY REGARDING GOVERNMENTAL CHOICES
  6. 6. Wind power isn’t just cheaper than fossil fuels, as the president asserted. Often, as in Texas last March, wind- generated electricity is sold for negative prices. reports that companies actually were paying Texas public utilities to take their excess electricity. Among several other factors artificially driving the price down was a generous Federal production tax credit that pays producers 2.3 cents per kilowatt-hour. Nick Loris, an economist who is the Herbert and Joyce Morgan Fellow at The Heritage Foundation, explains that subsidies and regulation—like the Texas wind credit—influence and skew significant portions of the energy market. And although, as the president says, the solar industry does employ more Americans than coal, Loris says, that’s because of an unfair playing field. “Heavy-handed regulations," he says, " are driving out coal as an important, reliable energy source and destroying jobs in the process.” Meanwhile, “solar benefits from generous taxpayer-funded subsidies.” Loris declares also that increased oil drilling, not solar production, does more to push down electricity prices. The Energy Information Administration reported that in 2015 that“wholesale electricity prices at major trading hubs … were down 27 percent [to]37 percent across the nation” and that the price drop was “driven largely by lower natural gas rices.” From President Obama's State of the Union Address: ““In fields from Iowa to Texas, wind power is now cheaper than dirtier, conventional power. On rooftops from Arizona to New York, solar is saving Americans tens of millions of dollars a year on their energy bills, and employs more Americans than coal—in jobs that pay better than average. “ SECTION #1 - BRIEF BACKGROUND AND OVERVIEW The President & Congress Favor Themselves vs. The People's Constitution - - EXAMPLE B: DISHONESTY REGARDING GOVERNMENTAL CHOICES
  7. 7. So, what insights and lessons do the preceding 2 examples bring forth? Here are 3 that seem both appropriate and, when broadly stated, can be understood as relating also to many other examples of misdirected governance that could be cited: I. The President announces National priorities and increased expenditures (or diverting funds previously used on other priorities) that are far from universally accepted by many Citizens. But was there a National debate on such priorities? Was the Congress involved in such a public debate? No, the Citizens' voice was ignored, disregarded or elbowed out of the way by other entrenched interests. Is this the American way? II. Special taxes, previously approved specifically for one purpose were simply shifted over to another purpose. Did the Citizens have a structured chance to object or offer alternatives? No. Is this the American way? III. In the case of jobs through infrastructure and wind or solar priority for the sake of Global Warming, the government embarks on increasing the legacy of debt to the children of every Citizen. Does every Citizen share this sense of moral behavior? Not very likely. Is this the American way? A GRADE FOR OUR GOVERNANCE? HOW ABOUT A C- ? NO! The above is NOT THE AMERICAN WAY, which blessedly produces a government OF, BY, & FOR the People. A few thoughts regarding Citizen opposition tactics against this Govermental over-reach and intrusiveness: a. Expand the Citizen's Pathways for interaction with the Federal Government b. Expand formal Public Debate between the President and Congress on all the major governance issues. c. Enable a Citizen's Initiative Process, which for a given number of duly signed Citizen mandates gives the Citizen the right to create National Law, which if deemed Constitutional by SCOTUS, becomes Federal Law. SECTION #2 - A RATING FOR OUR CURRENT GOVERNANCE
  9. 9. America has grown so much in population since our Founding, that true interaction between Citizens and their Elected Federal Representatives and the President has become so complex as to be almost non- functional. But we live in a digital age that now offers real time interaction by large numbers of interested Citizens. So here are a few proposals that could help make our Democratic Republic more interactive to the Citizens' voices and ideas. Both will contribute to an America that can recapture the governance created and formulated by our Founders, who bequeathed us Constitutional safeguards of Citizen Rights plus mechanisms to oversee and adapt our governance as the Citizens deem appropriate. So based on this reasoning, the following 3 Solution elements are expanded upon in the next several charts. SECTION #3 - Three Elements of A Solution to Regain Citizen Control of Government THE ISSUE THE PROPOSED SOLUTION (More details in the next few charts) A STRUCTURED AVENUE FOR CITIZEN INTERACTION WITH THEIR ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES 1. A CITIZEN'S OVERSIGHT PANEL (C.O.P.) ACTING AS A FORMAL INTERFACE BETWEEN CITIZENS AND THE FEDERAL GOVT. LACK OF ADEQUATE PUBLIC DEBATE 2. REGULAR, FORMAL, PUBLIC DEBATE BETWEEN THE PRESIDENT AND THE CONGRESS - - MODELED AFTER BRITAIN'S "PRIME MINISTER'S QUESTIONS" (PMQ) PRACTICE. CITIZEN CONSTRUCTION OF LAW 3. A FORMAL INITIATIVE PROCESS, IN WHICH CITIZEN-PROPOSED LAWS ARE ENACTED IF ADEQUATE VOTES ARE CAST.
  10. 10. A LESSON FROM BRITAIN'S TRADITION OF "PRIME MINISTER'S QUESTIONS" (PMQ) A few brief comments on the following short video clip: • This is a short, edited clip from the Weekly televised Political Discussion between British Prime Minister, David Cameron and Members of Parliament who take turns, within specified durations, addressing questions to him. Jeremy Bernard Corbyn, shown in this particular clip, is a British politician who is the Leader of the Labour Party and Leader of the Opposition. He has been the Member of Parliament for Islington North since 1983 and was elected Labour Leader in 2015. As will be seen, the discussion can sometimes get a little heated and snide - - but is almost always enlightening to the British Citizenry, many of whom will be viewing the live interchange from their homes or local public gathering places. • This particular PMQ exchange, initiated by Mr. Corbyn, related to some issues regarding the NHS (National Health Service). The "Mr. Speaker", at the podium, in this setting acts as the discussion Chairman. A benefit of this type of direct, public debate, is the tendency for more quantitative facts to emerge. A situation, that is particularly helpful to a thoughtful, responsible voting public. [Needless to say, the NHS topic was selected to help illustrate the benefit to timely Citizen assessment of differing political views - - there is no advocacy here for or against the NHS itself.] • As this little clip illustrates, both the British "Legislature" and the "Chief Executive" have opportunity to express their views and debate their positions on virtually any issue. In contrast, the American Congress and Presidency, are mostly discussing their differing views in totally separate press conferences or media interviews. But neither of these conveys to our Citizens the data, commitment or sincerity that is achieved in the PMQ setting. Also, although the British format is fine, some format changes may be appropriate in the U.S. Nevertheless, our model should retain the idea of direct debate between gov't Branch Leaders and the Legislature. Details of such modifications are left for future discussion. SECTION #3 - Three Elements of A Solution to Regain Citizen Control of Government
  11. 11. Click arrow below to PLAY video PROCEED TO NEXT CHART; CLICK ON ARROW TO START VIDEO
  12. 12. So how can Citizens voice their concerns in a way that government policy be made more in accord with their concerns, which presently are barely even discernible in public deliberations? Here are the 3 solution thoughts: 1. Job creation historically has been most successful under the responsibilty of the private sector, which is financially stimulated by production of goods and services in a variety of competitive approaches, from which Citizens can select the most appealing. The government’s record in this regard is worse that abysmal. America needs to support structured public debate of all major issues, (similar to PMQ) , including the important item of budgeting. Such debate will better inform Citizens and also enable public certainty that Congress has heard their complants and requests. 2. Citizens need a structural mechanism in government that ensures that if a reasonable number of Citizens complain, that formal action to ensure that both the Congress and the President must respond with adequate debate, followed by corrective legislation that has adequate compromise to assure Constitutional passage, implementation and enforcement. This Citizen Oversight Panel (C.O.P.) mechanism is currently not available. 3. Both Executive and Legislative branches of our government frequently use subtle and misleading terminologies in describing their Legislative and Regulatory proposals. Public debate (as per items 1., 2. above), is surely one good approach to enable better public understanding of, and influence upon, governmental actions. But Citizens also deserve the opportunity to formulate their own versions of Laws and Regulations - - and, with prescribed #’s of Citizen signatures, these versions (INITIATIVES) would be directly “voted into existence”. SECTION #4 - THE 3 PROPOSED SOLUTION ELEMENTS TO REGAIN CITIZEN CONTROL OF GOVERNMENT
  13. 13. THESE 3 SOLUTION THOUGHTS ARE GIVEN MORE EXPLICIT DEFINITION IN THE 3 NEXT TABLE ROWS SOLN #1.. A CITIZENS-POPULATED OVERSIGHT PANEL (C.O.P.) Congress shall create a multi-tasked Citizen-populated, Oversight Panel (C.O.P.) comprised of 50 duly-registered, salaried Citizens. the Panel, with support staff, shall act as the Citizen’s direct envoy to the Federal gov’t with authority to act as the Citizen’s ombudsman in direct interaction with the 3 Federal branches. the C.O.P. shall respond to any Citizen request for action signed by 5000 duly voter-registered U.S. Citizens. SOLN #2 STRUCTURED PUBLIC DEBATE - - THE CITIZENS GOVERNMENTAL QUESTION SESSION (CGQS) As advocated earlier, America should take a lesson from the British custom of Prime Minister's Questions (PMQ). Ours would be structured a little differently, since our governmental structures are not identical. Here are a few proposed CGQS groundrules: This structure should carry the strength of a Constitutional Amendment. Each agenda should include 9 topics, 2 each as submitted by the President, The Senate and the House of Reps - - PLUS 3 submitted by Citizens and selected from those submitted by the Speaker of the House; CGQS should be: a monthly, 180 minute event; should be broadcast live by C-Span and 3 commercial networks and include the President and each Senate and House formal Committee Chairmen with both the President and each Chairman entitled to invite 3 colleagues from their own governmental branch. Each of the 6 topics shall be allotted 30 minutes divided into: a 5 minute opening statement, a 15 minute Legislative-Executive exchange of 3 minute views, and a 10 minute discussion of three live, 2-minute call in questions by Citizens, with each Citizen question allocated 7 minutes for Governmental responders. To administer the rules of the Question session, a Panel of 3 Elected officials (selected for 2 year terms by the President, the House Leader and the Senate Majority Leader), shall be established to coordinate selection of the other Session attendees, the Citizen questions, TV coverage and other administrative details. The defined purpose of the CGQS shall be to enhance Citizen-government interactive, public discussion of the major National current issues - - with the objective of rotating participation of as many varied Congress, Presidential Cabinet Officers, and Citizens as may be practical. SECTION #4 - THE 3 PROPOSED SOLUTION ELEMENTS TO REGAIN CITIZEN CONTROL OF GOVERNMENT
  14. 14. SOLN #3 THE FEDERAL INITIATIVE PROCESS The Constitution shall be Amended to structure a Federal Government Citizen's Initiative Process. The process shall be structured to permit a Citizen-written and Citizen approved law or Regulation, which must meet the same content demands as all Congressionally-established Legislation or all Executive Branch-established Regulation. No law shall become valid unless meeting the following x-step requirements: (i) The formally proposed Initiative shall not exceed 750 words, (ii) It is initiated with the validated signatures of 10,000 duly registered voters from any of the existing States, (ii) Each state Governor shall then be responsible for assuring that the subsequent Initiative circulation and signing process shall adhere to their respective State law governing it's initiative process, (iii) The tallied results from each state shall be submitted to the Speaker of the House of Representatives for the next step: assure an accurate tally of supporting votes that meets or exceeds the number of winning votes received by the average number of the 4 preceding Presidential elections. If the tally meets the previously stated requirement of the average of 4 prior Presidential election approvals, the next step shall be submittal of the tallied, signed votes to the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court for a decision regarding the Constitutionality of the proposed law. If Constitutionality is voted by a majority of the Justices, the Initiative bill shall become Nationwide federal Law, as any other Congressionally-approved legislation. Neither approval of the President nor of the Congress shall be required for a Citizen-initiated Bill that successfully fulfills the above requirements. The purpose of this Citizens' process shall be to enhance the Citizen's ability to implement important yet popular Legislation and Regulations, yet retain an element of the "balance of powers" (as is achieved in Congressional Legislation with Presidential Approval). However, since this Initiative process result is achieved by a direct vote of the Citizens, it is intended not to require Congressional or Presidential approval. SECTION #4 - THE 3 PROPOSED SOLUTION ELEMENTS TO REGAIN CITIZEN CONTROL OF GOVERNMENT
  15. 15. And now, a short Patriotic musical video : Anthem for the Millennium (America, My Home!) Credit for this youtube video is gratefully acknowledged to: Copyright 1999 George K. Simon, Jr. Music by George Simon (ASCAP) Words by George and Sherry Simon Arrangement by Jonathan Joyner, Tom Carruth, and George Simon Performed by Ricky David Tripp A CONCLUDING THOUGHT