Term Limits

There is a candidate for President who is running with a platform item of Term Limits for Congress. I disagree with this idea.

The problem we have with “career politicians” isn’t as simple as how long they have been there. There are plenty of long term, career politicians that work diligently for the people in their districts and states, just as there are plenty that prefer to work for special interests and the “donor class”. Term limits is not the answer because then you are getting rid of the good as well as the bad.

The problem we have is much more complex. It is instead one where the already corrupt have corrupted the system to keep themselves in power. The problems include voter suppression and gerrymandering.

Gerrymandering is when the politicians redraw the voting districts so that they choose their voters rather than the voters choosing their representatives. One good place to get more information about this is the book “Constitutional Calculus” by Jeff Suzuki . Mr. Suzuki covers this and so much more about how math affects politics. (disclaimer, he’s a friend). Politicians, usually but not always Republicans, redraw the districting maps to give themselves an election advantage.

Voter suppression takes many forms, and again is usually perpetrated by the Republicans. It can be voter ID laws to require forms of ID that happen to be very hard for poorer people or students to get, sometimes coincidental to the closure of government offices in areas that those targeted citizens live in or restricting the available hours in those offices to when people are at work. For ones targeting students, it can also include requiring any vehicle used by the student to be registered in the town they go to school in instead of where they came from.

Beyond that, I don’t think term limits are a good idea because then instead of having career professional politicians and a chance at a steady set of policies, we wind up with amateurs and polices that swing widely from session to session with corresponding changes to laws, treaties and other international relationships.

The fix to the problem isn’t term limits, it’s unrigging the system, so that no one gets an unfair advantage. It’s undoing gerrymandering. It’s restoring voting rights and access. It’s getting money out of politics so that people cannot literally buy elections. It’s a complex fix for a complex problem.

It is not as simple as term limits.

Loosing my religion

An article popped into my Facebook feed today because one of my more religious minded FB Friends commented on it on FB. About how Millennials are leaving religion and not returning (https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/millennials-are-leaving-religion-and-not-coming-back/). I won’t ID them unless they ID themselves.

The article primarily is focused on the what, and barely touches on possible whys. Based on the writing, the article’s author also assumes Religion=Christian. I’m not a Christian, and I am also not religious. I identify as a “cultural Jew”. I am also not a Millennial. I am old enough to be the parent of a Millennial (if I had any kids).

My take on it is layered, from fundamental to political, with swerves through morality and ethics.

Fundamentally, religion is organized superstition. Millennia ago, this is something that we as a species needed to help make sense of the world and things that go bump in the night from the time we discovered fire. But slowly, over time, we have learned what things really are and how they work. We have, imo outgrown religion. And did so a couple centuries ago.

I think that the trend of Millennials, and others, to leave religion behind is multifaceted. The above certainly plays a part of it. Other parts is that contrary to what religious leaders may say, morality is not tied to religion. How can it be when different religions preach different moralities? If you need the promise of a Heaven or threat of a Hell to think and act in a moral fashion, then you by definition are not a moral person. Morality is how you behave when no one is watching. It’s who you are, not who you pretend to be. Yes, morality does need to be taught, but that teaching does not have to be tied to superstition.

Another reason, I think, is political, conscious or not. As I noted up top, the author of that article appears to assume that Religious=Christian. How MORAL can organized religion be when the loudest and one of the largest collection of sects are arguing for political policies and actions that patently are contradictory to the teachings of their professed God and Savior? How MORAL can they be when they have denigrated a man who upheld their claimed values, an honorable family man married to the same woman for over 20 years with two children by that same wife, who has shown consideration and compassion, and had fought to make life better for those around him. How MORAL can they be when they praise a serial philanderer with multiple affairs, three marriages, children by multiple wives, a man who is a proven cheat, liar and has broken most of the Ten Commandments?

I’d be quitting religion too if I were a member of one of those sects and not already non-religious.

Make America (Truly) Great Again the Eisenhower way

You want to really make America Great Again? Aside from the obvious pun of don’t by shredded cheese, this requires a return to the economic, social support and infrastructure policies that were enacted during the period considered “great”, the lat 1950s through 1970s. What made that time period great as far as American economic power goes?


Under Republican President Dwight Eisenhower, and well supported by a bipartisan House and Senate, the United States changed its tax code to have a progressive tax rate, where those that could afford to pay more, paid more, and those that couldn’t, paid less. As a result of this, the top marginal tax rate in 1960 was 91%, which applied to income over $200,000 (for single filers) or $400,000 (for married filers) – thresholds which correspond to approximately $1.5 million and $3 million, respectively, in today’s dollars. Approximately 0.00235% of households had income taxed at the top rate. A taxpayer at the very bottom of the top 1% (in other words, one who is right on the boundary between the 98th and 99th percentiles) had a nominal income of $24,435, or about $190,000 in today’s dollars. (In 2008, this figure was nominally $380,354, or $400,000 in current dollars.) (Tax figure Source).

At the same time, corporate income tax was higher on profits, not income. More below.

What did this fund and fuel? Many things including, but not limited to:

  • Social Security
  • Education
  • Interstate Highways

The way the tax code for companies was structures made it more over all profitable for the corporations to actually invest in themselves with R&D and paying living wages to their employees.

With tax funded public education at all levels, Kindergarten through College, Americans of all economic classes could afford to send their children to school for higher education, which is traditionally the gateway to prosperity.

Also during this time, while for-profit health care was legal, it was not the standard operational model that it is today.

All together, this mean that America had a growing economy fueled by the ability of people to spend and pay for things. Like new cars, and houses. These tax policies created the Middle Class as we knew it, and that in turn created the greatness of America in the latter half of the 20th Century.

So how do we return to that greatness? By returning to those policies. We need a return to a progressive tax that has those that can afford to pay more, pay more. We need a similar structure back on the corporate tax side as well, taxing effective profit, which deducts for self-investment in capital improvements, R&D, and wages to the employees (maybe calculated as a ratio to the CEO. In 1965, this ratio was 20 to 1. In 2016, it was 260 to 1 (source).

With a return to these tax policies, we can fuel a rebirth of the Middle Class, which is the engine that drives economic greatness, which drives the overall power of a nation.

We also need to return health care back to a not-for-profit model. Under the current system, people have to choose life or death based on how much money they have in the bank, and for many, choosing life results in financial ruin.

We need public education that is actually publicly funded. We need a single-payer health system. We need lots of infrastructure upgrades and expansion. We need wage increases, a solid social support system including Social Security and assistance to give a hand up to those in need. And this can only be funded by a return to the Eisenhower-esque progressive tax code.