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Monday, January 27, 2014

The Umpire

The Umpire

By Michael D'Angelo
The Smirking Chimp
January 27, 2014

Who serves as "umpire" in the great American experiment in
democracy?

Is the umpire adequately protected from big money interests to
complete the great unfinished business of the nation, achieving
equality of opportunity?

Thomas Jefferson felt that the happiest society was one where
inequalities of condition were not great.

As president, he considered what was needed for the happiness
and prosperity of the people.

Jefferson talked about "a wise and frugal government, which
shall restrain men from injuring one another."

Further, that government should leave the people "otherwise free
to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and
shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned."

Are these the government and conditions we are experiencing
today?

Jefferson believed that the status of aristocracy, based as it was
not on merit but inherited privilege, made it doubtful that this
class would exercise its public obligation for human progress on
its existing foundation.

Consequently, his ideas sought to restore what he called "the
natural order of freedom to give talent and virtue, which were
scattered through all ranks of society, a chance to rise."

He described his purposes in terms of "natural philosophy."

Throughout his life, Jefferson never ceased to believe that men
(white men, that is) by right were free in their minds and persons
and that human society should guide its steps by the light of reason.

Today's news media heaps praise upon America as a land
of opportunity. This praise is earned on merit.

The constitution requires all citizens to be considered equal under
the law, that they should be afforded "equal protection of the
laws."

But did the founding fathers designate anyone in particular to
discharge the responsibility for fair dealing on a level playing
field?

In other words, can we identify the umpire?

Jefferson, for one, argued that it was the legislature, working
in unison with the executive, which was best suited to play the
unassuming, under-appreciated role of umpire.

On the important condition that proper policy was in place by the
combined efforts of this pair, working together, then thereafter,

The path we have to pursue is so quiet that we have nothing
scarcely to propose to our Legislature.

A noiseless course, not meddling with the affairs of others,
unattractive of notice, is a mark that society is going on in
happiness.

If we can prevent the government from wasting the labors of
the people, under the pretense of taking care of them, they
must become happy.

To this noiseless course approach.

It must be added, however, that unless the President's mind in
a view of everything which is urged for and against (a particular
bill) is tolerably clear that it is unauthorized by the Constitution;
if the pro and the con hang so even as to balance his judgment,
a just respect for the wisdom of the legislature would naturally
decide the balance in favor of their opinion.

It is chiefly for cases where they are clearly misled by error,
ambition or interest, that the Constitution has placed a check
on the negative (i.e.: veto) of the President.

So, it is the legislative branch which serves the role of umpire,
calling balls and strikes, fair or foul, letting the citizens "play"
and using its authority to maintain a level playing field.

But the ordinary citizen must be mindful that the "science of
human nature" will be silently at work in the democratic process.

This involves an expectation of reasonable men acting reasonably
in their own best interest.

That is to say, lawmakers face natural corruption by self-interest.

The primary, big money, self-interest components of American
democracy include the financial interests of capitalism, the
resulting onset of political parties, large corporations, labor
unions, lobby groups, political action committees, etc.

Each has evolved only after the constitution was enacted in 1789.

Together they tend to undermine the transparency necessary to
understand how and why laws are made, or not made.

The ordinary citizen may draw certain conclusions when wealth
and income disparity are presently at an all time high, and
those conclusions are not all positive.

For one, the situation is morally indefensible.

And for another, the legislative branch is inadequately protected
from big money interests.

This confounds the quest to complete the great unfinished
business of the nation, achieving equality of opportunity.

How can the rules of the game be revisited to assist lawmakers
with their inherently difficult role of impartial umpire in a level
playing field society?

The good news is that sound, practical measures appear to
be readily available.

Does the ordinary citizen possess the courage to meet the
challenge of our time?

http://www.smirkingchimp.com/thread/lifeamongtheordinary
/53587/the-umpire

1 comment:

  1. Alternative Banking, an Occupy Wall Street working group has recently (Jan '14) updated a publication they authored arguing for the need of refereeing in the activities of finance. It is available as a pdf a Popular Resistance: http://www.popularresistance.org/occupy-finance-book-published-by-the-ows-alternative-banking-group/ Great post!

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