Getting Past the Mental Blocks

Discuss how we can hasten progress towards enlarging representation. There are two primary components to this: 1) educating others in order to gain the public support necessary; and, 2) ensuring implementation via a constitutional amendment.
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Getting Past the Mental Blocks

Postby TheTrucker » Mon May 04, 2009 8:01 pm

There was a small effort put forth a while back to get people to actually notice that "435" is not some magic number defined in the United States Constitution and to raise awareness that the number is not cast in stone. One of the most difficult challenges is to to get people to understand that the representation was not "fixed" by the constitution because the founders believed that the "good sense" of the Congress should be employed to regulate the trade-off between adequate representation and "the confusion of a multitudinous legislature".

Unfortunately, a strategy based on history is a failure because of the lab rat syndrome. It is a real challenge to show that the people wanted guarantees against what we now have and that they were told that they would have them. And that thin line of reasoning is stretched to claim that had the promise of amendments been withheld then the Constitution would not have been ratified. I do a good deal of this in the wikipedia "Article The First". That effort should probably be expanded, but the rules against original research get in the way. No one that I can find has written a published work about it other then Bryan Bricker.

So I have adopted a different strategy where I stick to history of only the last 100 years. And in this strategy I do not attempt to propose an enlargement of the House in any extreme amount. I instead, employ a goal of double or up to three times the current membership arguing that the latter day organization of the House can withstand such an increase with no appreciable alteration to the current manner and custom of the House. I did some spread sheets and pictures for various "rationales", and put them up on GreaterVoice.org. Click the graph and see the explanation behind it. Click the graph in the explanation and get an html of the spreadsheet. Click the banner over the discussion and get the actual Open Office spread sheet.

When the House was set to 435 in 1911 there were a large number of committees and no electronic voting or records keeping. In 1946 the number of committees was reduced to 19 and in 1975 (or so) electronic voting was introduced. Most of the clerical work is now automated and the business of the House is much more efficient than it was in 1911. The "deliberative body of the House" is the committee structure of the House. The Representative body of the House (the full membership) can be much larger without need of increasing the committee structure or current infrastructure. The Representative body can be quadrupled or enlarged even further through the use of very trite and low level technology, still without alteration to the manner and custom of the House as it has existed since 1946.

People are afraid of change and they build mental blocks that keep change at bay. The left will whiiiiiiiine about how bad everything is and make a big show of their desire for "change". You want change? Here's a quarter. Get off your whining box and do something for the people. Pass a rational reapportionment act of 2009. That would be real change.
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Re: Getting Past the Mental Blocks

Postby JEQuidam » Mon May 04, 2009 9:25 pm

Trucker,

Regarding Article the first, be sure to download and read the report at this link:
http://www.thirty-thousand.org/documents/QHA-04.pdf

"The Minimum and Maximum Size of the U. S. House of Representatives"

...Jeff
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Re: Getting Past the Mental Blocks

Postby JEQuidam » Thu May 07, 2009 7:23 am

The TTO website was recently moved to a new server, and in the process the report referenced above was replaced with an obsolete version.

Please download this report again to make sure you have the current one:
http://www.thirty-thousand.org/documents/QHA-04.pdf

The Minimum and Maximum Size of the U. S. House of Representatives
Per the Constitution and pursuant to all three versions of the proposed “Article the first”
(On the cover the "Revised" date should be June 24, 2007.)
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Re: Getting Past the Mental Blocks

Postby TheTrucker » Fri May 22, 2009 1:51 pm

JEQuidam wrote:Please download this report again to make sure you have the current one:
http://www.thirty-thousand.org/documents/QHA-04.pdf

The Minimum and Maximum Size of the U. S. House of Representatives
Per the Constitution and pursuant to all three versions of the proposed “Article the first”
(On the cover the "Revised" date should be June 24, 2007.)


I am currently much more interested in the Constitutionality of the arrangement as the unamended
Constitution and the representation now stand. There are two mental blocks here:

1. Each state shall have at least one representative.
This one is interpreted as "there will be one or more states that have only one representative.
That interpretation is bogus. The least populous state could have several reps and that would
not, on any way, infringe on constitutionality.

The second metal block is based on the first and an additional ignorance of "according to their number"

2, In the second mental block we have people saying that the minimum size of the House is one rep for each state. That simply ignores "according to their number". And it is the combination of thirty thousand, "each shall have at least one" and "according to their number" that gives us the unamended minimum and maximum.

Constitutionality is ill defined in the phrase "according to their number" but this lack of precision cannot be interpreted to produce a non-proportional representation such as what we have in the Senate (100 members) unless the Supreme Court is brain dead. Many people believe by inference that the court has decided that so long as there is any proportionality at all then the Congress is in compliance with "according to their number", but that too may be a mental block. The Montana case was not based on the grievous inequality of voting power cause by an insufficient number of representatives. The Montana case was based on the claim that the reapportionment math was wrong in that a different reapportionment algorithm applied to the number 435 would have produced a more "fair" distribution of house seats. To my very limited knowledge the "equal protection under the laws" clause of the Constitution has never been used to compel the US Congress to increase the membership of the House to achieve "one man one vote" to the full extent allowed under the Constitution. This is the "one man one vote" rationale that the court used in Baker v. Carr to insist on equally populous legislative districts within the states. To say that the court has not enforced this clause in regard to congressional districts of differing states may be vaguely true, but the court has not been called upon to do so. The Baker V. Carr case was a STATE LEGISLATURE CASE, and the national legislature would be the defendant in a national case.
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Re: Getting Past the Mental Blocks

Postby Paul Taylor » Sat Oct 03, 2009 8:08 am

I would think that another 'mental block' that people have is two-fold:

1.: Where would we house such a large body, and,
2.: How do we meet the payroll for such an enlarged bureaucracy?

I argue that
1.: We have representatives 'serve' from home, within their physical district (you already noted the largely automated processes of the House, which I think could be expanded to allow service from home. (On a related note, this would keep representatives at home and under a watchful, communal constituent eye, while also pricing special interests out of the lobbying business, because what lobby can afford an office in every district, in contrast to centralizing forces today in DC?)

2.: We pay representatives less. $174,000 a year may seem appropriate and necessary, when considering that you are asking the representative to maintain, in essence, two homes (in-district and in DC), and spend a great deal of time traveling between them. By removing these costly job requirements, and by the reduction in constituent service workload offered by reduced district size, one can easily argue for a reduced salary, both specifically for the representative, and generally for the representative's staff. Will someone not run for office if the salary isn't high enough? Too bad! I'd rather the candidate be motivated by the desire to more effectively serve than other candidates, than be motivated by how much bank they can make by landing a sweet, perpetual-incumbent gig.

A tripling of the House, by the simplest calculations, could easily result in a reduction of salary to the range of $40,000 to $50,000. Speaking personally, I could easily serve one term of two years from home, enjoy what I do, doing it very well, for that much, and be in fine financial shape coming out the other end of it.

Thus, I try to make the argument that, in increasing the house size, and requiring service from home, we wouldn't have to increase congressional payroll. Better representation at no increased cost.

Perhaps someone else can enlarge on this. I am writing stream-of-consciousness here, and in need of sleep, so I am certain my argument could be somewhat wanting.
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Re: Getting Past the Mental Blocks

Postby JEQuidam » Sat Oct 03, 2009 8:36 am

Paul Taylor wrote:I would think that another 'mental block' that people have is two-fold:

1.: Where would we house such a large body, and,
2.: How do we meet the payroll for such an enlarged bureaucracy?


#1) I certainly agree that they could be mostly working from their home districts, amongst their constituents (and where we could keep an eye on our employee Representative).

#2) I favor keeping their salary at the same level because we should entice the best of the community to leave their current "day jobs" and become a Representative. The analogy is the schools. Hypothetically, you have a choice between school A and B (and neither are unionized). School A pays it's teachers an average of $45K, school B pays an average of $85K. Which one has better teachers? In addition, and anyone can do the math on this one, if you were to reduce all the federal spending over the last year by a fraction of one percent, it would more than offset the cost of 6,000 Reps! It is my firm opinion that if we had a truly representative House, total federal spending authorized over the last 12 months would be trillions less. Compared to that, paying 6000 Reps their current salaries is chump change.

That being said, we absolutely do need to eliminate the practice of giving them pensions and other benefits for life just for serving a single term. What private company can you work at for a year and get a pension?

Also, there should be NO increase in total staff levels. Existing staff levels would be needed for research and for administrative coordination among a larger number of Representatives. In a smaller district, the Reps can answer phones, reply to letters and read the legislation themselves! If they can't do that, we can - and we will take their jobs!
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Re: Getting Past the Mental Blocks

Postby Paul » Sat Oct 03, 2009 11:38 am

While I agree they should work either from or very near to their districts, I disagree with having them work from home. Politics invites everyone in a district to show up at a candidate's office, and there will be some people showing up that many would prefer not to let into their homes.

I agree with Jeff that the pay should be high, or we will get a high proportion of representatives concerned with things other than good legislation.

I actually argue that the very first thing an expanded house would do is insist on a balanced budget, and there would be nothing the other branches could do to stop them. So this year that would save $1,800,000,000,000.
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Re: Getting Past the Mental Blocks

Postby Paul Taylor » Sat Oct 03, 2009 11:49 am

Sorry. When I referred to serving from home, I meant from their home district. I would expect an office separate from their personal abode.
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Re: Getting Past the Mental Blocks

Postby Green_TZM » Sat Feb 23, 2013 8:37 pm

Paul Taylor wrote:I would think that another 'mental block' that people have is two-fold:

1.: Where would we house such a large body, and,
2.: How do we meet the payroll for such an enlarged bureaucracy?

I don't know how to use this quote stuff

Talk has been made of not "housing" the body in one central place.
3. I would like to know how this large body will not end up entangled in argument?
4. How will bills be introduced?
5. Will we pay pensions for life?
6. Can someone just tell a plausible story of how this COULD work?
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Re: Getting Past the Mental Blocks

Postby JEQuidam » Sat Mar 02, 2013 4:30 pm

Green_TZM wrote:Talk has been made of not "housing" the body in one central place.
3. I would like to know how this large body will not end up entangled in argument?

They are "entangled in argument" now. They would be entangled in argument if there were only 100 of them (see the Senate). That is the nature of a representative republic or a democracy! I have no problem with that. Debate eventually leads to better solutions, and a resolution where necessary. Democracies require that all interests be considered and that compromises are reached. If someone truly objects to seeing representative bodies entangled in argument, I suggest they move someplace like Venezuela or China where that unpleasantness can be avoided. In fact, the very best place to avoid that would be North Korea! For me, I see the arguments as a sign of a vibrant representative republic.

My only objection is to the fact that our Reps usually are not arguing on our behalf, but on the behalf of their true constituents (the Special Interests). With smaller districts, the Reps will have to argue on behalf of their citizen constituents. That would be a beautiful thing.

Green_TZM wrote:4. How will bills be introduced?

This is discussed in "Taking Back Our Republic". It is reasonable to expect that the committee system (which proposes legislation and conducts investigations) would continue to operate as it does today. The several hundred Reps who actively serve on committees could continue to meet in DC, just as they do now, and/or utilize virtual meetings. And I believe that the several thousand other Reps who do not actively serve on committees should work from their home districts, where we can keep an eye on them, and where they can be properly petitioned by their constituents. We will expect those Reps to read the legislation proposed out of committee before they vote on it, and be available to discuss it with their constituents, who are now surrounding them. That would certainly be a radical improvement.

Green_TZM wrote:5. Will we pay pensions for life?

Regarding pensions for life, I don't believe the Reps should have that now! So that really is a separate issue regardless of the number of Reps. IMO, their pensions should NOT be any better than for those who serve in the military. As I understand it, one has to serve in the military for at least 20 years to be eligible to receive a pension that is a percentage of their basic pay. They have to serve 40 years for their pension to equal 100% of their basic pay. I cannot fathom why our Reps should receive a better arrangement than the folks who put themselves in mortal danger, especially given the Reps' high compensation levels. I actually have no objections to their high pay, especially if it helps attract the best among us away from their primary occupations, but their pensions have become quite excessive.

Green_TZM wrote:6. Can someone just tell a plausible story of how this COULD work?

For a case study, I would start by comparing the state legislatures of CA and NH (read Freedom and Legislative District Sizes to see why). The reality is that the legislators will have to determine exactly how to implement this. All of these administrative and logistical challenges are clearly resolvable, and they can best be resolved by those we elect to represent us, and who will actually have to perform that job.
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