William Howard Taft concluded […] “This country is no country for radicalism. I think it is really the most conservative country in the world.” But why was that so? There were many theories. The patrician editors of The New York Times […] provided one plausible explanation: “If it is true, as there is much evidence to prove, that Americans are showing themselves the most conservative nation in a turbulent world, the largest cause of it lies in our Federal Constitution.” The Constitution, the editors explained, “makes the American people secure in their individual rights as citizens when these are imperiled by passing gusts of sentiment.”
These dubious “gusts of sentiment,” in the lingo of American constitution-speak, are precisely what other societies call “the democratic will.” It stands to reason that a document drafted by a coterie of gilded gentry, openly contemptuous of “democracy” and panicked by what they saw as the mob rule of the 1780s, would seek to constrict popular sovereignty to the point of strangulation. Thus, brilliantly and subtly, the system they built rendered it virtually impossible for the electorate to obtain a concerted change in national policy by a collective act of political will. The Senate is an undemocratic monstrosity in which 84 percent of the population can be outvoted by the 16 percent living in the smallest states. The passage of legislation requires the simultaneous assent of three separate entities — the presidency, House, and Senate — that voters are purposely denied the opportunity to choose at one time, with two-thirds of the Senate membership left in place after each election. The illogical electoral college gears the whole combat of presidential elections around a few, almost randomly determined, swing states that happen to contain evenly balanced numbers of Democrats and Republicans. And the entire system is frozen in amber by an amendment process of almost comical complexity. Whereas France can change its constitution anytime with a three-fifths vote of its Congress and Britain could recently mandate a referendum on instant runoff voting by a simple parliamentary majority, an amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires the consent of no less than thirty-nine different legislatures comprising roughly seventy-eight separately elected chambers.
This past week, the Oregon state legislature unanimously passed a bill that, if signed into law, will provide for development of a pilot program for the newly-designed Pay It Forward, Pay It Back plan. Essentially, students would be able to attend public universities tuition and loan free in exchange for a 3% deduction from their paychecks for the 24 years immediately following graduation.
Based in part on an Australian model, Oregon’s plan is the first stateside foray into a pay-it-forward framework. The state legislature will vote on implementation of the pilot in 2015.
How refreshing it is to see an American legislature doing something novel, creative, and worthwhile to address a serious national problem. Kudos, Oregon! Proud to be inside you.
"I am sorry if I was misunderstood. But I am not sorry for what I said. Why should I if it was a fact?"
Frankly, it’s the hobbits he should be apologizing to.
What is going on in the Republican Party? In a major departure from the national party’s stance—and even from past statements by the candidates—at least 75 Republicans signed a legal brief on Monday that says gay people have the constitutional right to marry. The brief will be submitted to a California court this week as part of a suit against the state’s controversial Proposition 8, a 2008 ballot measure that outlawed gay marriage. Among the signatures were 2012 Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman…
From Huntsman’s recent Marriage Equality is a Conservative Cause
[W]e must demand equality under the law for all Americans.
There is nothing conservative about denying other Americans the ability to forge [a marriage] with the person they love.
[T]he American people will not hear us out if we stand against their friends, family, and individual liberty.
Yasmin Nair: Gay Marriage IS a Conservative Cause
All of this has led gays and their straight allies to exult in having the support of conservatives. Apparently, there is nothing that confirms that a cause is right and progressive and just dandy more than the fact that a bunch of fat cat capitalists who have supported the looting of the world and generally have appalling politics around race, gender, and neo-colonialism also support it.
Out of all this emerges an implicit statement, that even conservatives support gay marriage, that even conservatives admit that gay marriage is a good thing. It means that there is somehow a left argument to be made for gay marriage.
But there has never been a left case for gay marriage. Nothing that the left, progressives, or liberals have stated in support of gay marriage has ever been anything but a profoundly conservative argument.
Gays and lesbians should be allowed to marry for healthcare? That simply shores up the power of the neoliberal state, compelling people to marry and take on the burden for their own care, instead of creating, for instance, a system that grants life-saving benefits to everyone, regardless of marital status.
This is a matter of “simple equality?” How is a system that systematically denies those same benefits to single people ever anything but fundamentally unequal?
That denying marriage to some is denying them their ability to love or to have their love affirmed? If your love depends upon the recognition of the state, your relationship is in greater trouble than you think.
That poor people will somehow benefit from marriage by accessing healthcare through their partners? Poor people’s problems don’t arise from their inability to get married and in a country without universal healthcare, marriage only compounds your poverty. And, really, if you’re poor, neither you nor your partner is likely to have healthcare anyway; the last thing you want is to increase the burden on your household by increasing the number of people in it.
There is no separate conservative case for gay marriage. There has never been a left/progressive case for gay marriage. The surprise is not that gay marriage is now being embraced by conservatives and neoliberals. The surprise is that it took them so long to do so.
According to a recent report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, 70 federal agencies owe a combined $14 million in overdue taxes — and the IRS can’t even go after them.
“IRS employees are severely limited in what enforcement actions they can take against these delinquent agencies,” the report states. “Federal agencies should be held to the same filing and paying standards as all American taxpayers.”
If these were private, mom-and-pop shops, the IRS could fine them, put liens against them or confiscate their assets. But because of a 1978 law, the IRS is forbidden from collecting fines or penalties, or taking punitive enforcement action against delinquent federal agencies
And public shaming won’t even work, as all of the delinquent agency names are blacked out.
“That’s an outrage,” said Scott Hodge, president of the Tax Foundation in Washington, D.C. “If agencies can be anonymous or hide from public scrutiny, you can’t even embarrass them, and that means there’s no accountability at all now.”