Sunday, December 28, 2014

In the Beginning, We Hold These Truths To Be Self Evident!

Hi! Happy Sunday!

Happy New Year! Happy New Year! Happy 2015!

In the beginning? How do we begin to upgrade the failed US government? In the estimable words of the great Yogi Berra, "You have to be careful if you do not know where you are going because you might not get there." Where do we want to go collectively as a country?

Should we:
  1. Convene a new Constitutional Congress and draft a new constitution?
  2. Draft a series of amendments to update the existing constitution? 
  3. Create new political parties? 
  4. Get rid of the Federal Reserve Bank? 
  5. Vote in a whole new slate of politicians?
  6. Repeal the income tax amendment? 
As an engineer the first thing we need are the requirements. What are the requirements needed? Oh! No! Not project management!

Sorry, I kid. In the software industry project management is a messy busy upon which there is little agreement on the ideal process. But the objective remains, what are the requirements? Here are the minimal initial requirements needed:
  1. What defines American? 
  2. What are our universally common ideals? 
  3. What defines a State? 
  4. What are our community reserved ideals? 
  5. What are our individual rights? 
Let me answer the above using our common understanding from our 1789 founding:
  1. Born within American territory or naturalized. Naturalized Americans cannot be President but are otherwise equal to those born here. 
  2. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Individual rights. A government that provides for the common defense and general welfare. A strong central government is to be avoided where the States should be the primary government power.
  3. Physical geographical boundaries.
  4. Anything not enumerated as universal  ideals are reserved for the community. These include such things as marriage, education, religion, police and zoning laws.
  5. The Bill of Rights that includes freedom of speech, religion, arms and trial by jury. 
My engineering perspective is such that we need to revisit these fundamental requirements using history to educate us on improvements that can be made. 

My contribution to this conversation is about scale so what about scale? When this country was founded the first census counted ten-million Americans. Today, the State of California has close to 40 million Americans and is four times the size of the US at its founding. Yet in 2015 there are still States with populations on the order of the what existed in 1789. Today a representative represents one million people where at the founding it was ten-thousand people. We have failed to scale. Today the Federal government spends annually double what all fifty  state governments combined spend. The Federal budget was nothing when this country first started and now the Federal government has overwhelmed and mostly made irrelevant state power by attaching regulations to Federal money. The States are no longer an effective check on the balance of Federal power. The scalable perspective is that checks and balances as originally conceived have failed and this failure has fundamentally undermined our universally held ideal that Sates are the primary government power. To whit, the Federal government is too big. The scalable objective is to realign government power such that the federal government plays only a supporting role in defense and general welfare.

So where to begin?

We need to keep in mind the one key scalable objective is trimming down the size of central government by orders of magnitude. The federal government size needs to be cut in at least half if not three-quarters just, just, just in budget alone so as to rebalance state and federal power. Another key scalable insight is that 380 million Americans should be approached more like thirty-eight different countries than one country when one considers this country started with ten million people. We also pegged the number representatives to 435 in the 1800s because we had no plan to scale.

So where to begin?

We, we the people, need to define what it means to be an American in 2015 when there are 380 million of us with worldwide diversity.

Here is my proposal for upgrading our government:
  1. A web site that acts as US constitution requirements clearing house for  answering the five requirement questions posted above. Each set of requirements should be allowed to be voted upon and subscribed too such that a total number of subscribers sets the top contenders for material consideration.
  2. A web site to promote US constitution requirements using the ideals promoted. This site hosts movies, art, books and all manner of cultural material promoting the ideals represented by requirements in the US constitution requirements clearing house. 
  3. A process for winnowing out or voting upon the US constitution requirements down to a final set as a people together. 
  4. A deadline.
We need to come together as a country as people, one-on-one, meeting each other square and agreeing upon what it means to be American and then what we want our representative governments to deliver. This time we replace the founding fathers with we the people using our shiny new technology, the Internet. We need to crawl out from under the spell of the founding fathers we have shackled ourselves too with respect to changing the constitution. If we the people decide then we the people are the founders!

Well come! and Well met!

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