Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for September 8th, 2021

Sensitive briar inflorescence

with 18 comments

From August 22nd in the northeast quadrant of Mopac and US 183
comes this little sensitive briar flower globe, Mimosa roemeriana.

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Wished-for Constitutional Amendments

When the people who have come to be known as the Founders of the United States devised a Constitution to specify the form of government the country would have, they realized there was no way to anticipate all the future needs of a new and quickly growing nation. With that in mind, they established a mechanism by which to amend the Constitution as the need arose. The Founders designed the amendment process to be rigorous enough to deter frivolous and trendy changes.

The first 10 amendments got added as a group in 1791, soon after the Constitution was ratified. Those form the so-called Bill of Rights, which some of the delegates to the Constitutional Convention insisted would have to be added in return for their votes to ratify the original Constitution. In the 230 years since the Bill of Rights, just 17 more amendments have passed, for an average of one every 13.5 years. The most recent amendment got approved 29 years ago.

Over the past decade I’ve occasionally had ideas for amendments I’d like to see added to our Constitution. Maybe I’ll mention one here every so often, beginning today. Here goes.

While people casually call the United States a democracy, it’s actually a republic, or a representative democracy if you like. At the national level, each citizen is represented in the legislature by three people. One is the citizen’s locally elected delegate to the House of Representatives. With the number of Representatives capped at 435, that means each one on average currently “represents” almost 750,000 people. In the other branch of Congress, every citizen is represented by two Senators.

Although the positions of Representative and Senator are local, in the sense that they represent a portion of a state or at most a whole state, recent elections have seen huge amounts of money pouring in from out of state to the campaigns of candidates running for the Senate and the House of Representatives. It’s no longer unusual for out-of-state campaign contributions to outweigh local contributions, sometimes by a lot, and it’s true for candidates from both of the main American political parties. As I see it, that’s like letting someone from another town have a say in how you budget the money in your own household, or telling you what you should eat for supper. We wouldn’t tolerate that, but we’re allowing people from other states to have a say (via campaign donations) in who’s going to represent us in our own state.

To deal with that, my proposed Constitutional amendment says that at all levels—national, state, and local—someone may donate money to the campaign of a politician or to a group promoting a ballot measure only if the donor is legally entitled to vote for that candidate or ballot measure. Some people would try to circumvent that restriction by donating money to an organization that then funnels the money to a distant politician’s campaign or to a group promoting a ballot measure. My amendment requires that money donated to an intermediate group would have to be tagged with the jurisdiction in which the donor lives, and the intermediate group could spend that money only on political causes in that same jurisdiction. If the law caps the amount a donor may contribute to a candidate or a group promoting a ballot measure, then my amendment would make it illegal for the donor to donate to multiple intermediate organizations as a way to exceed the cap.

What do you think?

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 8, 2021 at 4:28 AM

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