Comprehension ..

A lot of our trouble in understanding what is happening to our political and economic system is tied up in comprehension.  People who do not understand that which is presented to them tend to follow the leader, often any leader.

I once served in a state legislature; it might be instructive to investigate how that system works.

First, we should always remember that the legislature is, as was taught to us in civics class, a great deliberative body, a place where each member can question and comment on any change to the law.  As a matter of constitutional law each bill introduced for consideration is to be read and debated, in its entirety on three different days, in full, to the entire body.  That is in theory, but in practice, as the clerk begins to read the bill, a member stands and says, “I ask unanimous consent that further reading of the bill be dispensed with,” whereupon the Speaker asks, “is there objection?” … “Hearing none, Bill (such and such) is remanded to Committee (such and such) for recommendation.”  If the committee chairman where the bill is sent doesn’t like the bill it goes into his desk drawer, never to see daylight again.  If he wishes it to be considered, he brings it before the committee for consideration. (This of course after he has counted the votes so as to know its disposition)  The committee at its pleasure then returns the bill to the floor, with their recommendation, for its Second reading, which is expedited in the same manner as the first reading … “I ask unanimous consent that further reading of the bill be dispensed with” or by the Speaker peremptorily saying “without objection the bill will be advanced to the third reading calendar,” whereupon it is posted at the bottom of the Third Reading Calendar for final consideration.  Thereafter it is considered in order with the other bills on the calendar.  Upon final consideration, once again, a proponent often asks that “further reading” be dispensed with.  The pattern is that the proponent (generally a popular and respected member) gets up and since he too has probably not read it, (or it is a pet project) says something like, “good bill, should pass” and then sits down.  Often that is the sum total of the debate.  Bewildered members who have not read the bill and do not know its contents after gazing around the room, noting that their friends are voting for it, do likewise.  Of course the ethical thing to do when you do not understand the implications of the bill is to vote “no”, but that would likely make your peers angry … better to vote yes … better safe than sorry.  So it is, this is how these bills become law.  I might add that the bill itself is usually the work of a pressure group or a lobbyist.  It is often the case that the proponent has not read the bill … it is a certainty that most of the members have not.  So why is it that these bills pass?  The answer lies in man’s herd instinct.  If you do not object to the call for “unanimous consent”, how could you object to the bill?  It is obvious that you don’t care what is in the bill, so why should you object to its passage into law.  The truth is, that if you object, a sigh of disdain can be heard throughout the House.  If you object regularly, you will be branded a pariah; if you vote against a bill because you don’t understand it you will be seen as an “aginner.”  The better way is to “go along to get along.”  If you do that, you will be almost certainly a long term member of the body.  Of course, you are not being true to the precepts of deliberative law making, or to your constituents, or to yourself.  The tactics described here are just the tip of ways in which the legislative herd is stampeded, but suffice it to say, that you can be assured that the above is the general practice.

I think that you may perceive that the legislative process is not well understood, but neither is much else about politics.  What about money?  I have been going on for some time about the enormity of the number one trillion.  Those zeros make a lot of difference.  Thousand, million, billion, trillion … each equally easy to say, but each a thousand times bigger than the last.  Recently, as I was watching the tube over the period of several days, I several times saw Governor Mike Huckabee explaining the ills of “Obamacare” saying that it was going to cost a trillion dollars.  This was all being done in a very polished, Madison avenue-esk video ad.  Below Mike’s talking figure, in the lower right corner of the ad, when Mike said, “trillion” there appeared the number $1,000,000,000.  The point I am trying to make here is that the ad people had no concept of a trillion dollars and Mike, presumably proof reading it, didn’t either.  The ad only missed the trillion dollar mark by $999,000,000,000.

Another thing that interests me is that when gold (as it is likely to do this fall) hits $2,000 per ounce, a dollar will buy precisely what a penny would when many of our readers were born.  I can’t help but remembering my grandfather telling me that when he was a boy, he could buy five, foot long sticks of candy (horehound) for a penny.

Tonight, I was listening to a pundit explain how we could get jobs back by injecting “short term” government stimulus.  I got to thinking, is he talking about the theories of John Maynard Keynes?  A lot of people seem to like the Keynesian idea of expanding the money supply by just printing it in order to inject “liquidity” into the economy to avert monetary woes.  FDR tried it for many years, but, as hindsight analysis informs us, nothing worked until we became embroiled in WWII.  As a matter of fact, I have not personally been able discern any large monetary woe that has not been fomented by the Federal Reserve Bank’s easy money policies.  Have you?  Can you think of any present day political crisis that is not the fault of the federal government doing things not delegated to it in the Constitution?

Is it possible that America is great in spite of the Federal Government and its profligate Federal Reserve Bank, instead of because of it, as the Progressives say?

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