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Ease v. Democracy?

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  • C. S. Wyatt
    ... federal referendum in the USA? How much of what kind of legislation is subject to referendum in the USA? ... This goes to culture and responsibility:
    Message 1 of 76 , Mar 1, 2004
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      --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, jerryjfortin@a... wrote:
      > In a message dated 29/02/2004 1:46:05 PM Mountain Standard Time,
      > existlist1@t... writes:
      > differences as well. For instance what and when was the last
      federal referendum in the USA? How much of what kind of legislation
      is subject to referendum in the USA?
      > Jerry

      This goes to culture and responsibility:

      Think of this in terms of philosophy, not mere politics. It is easy to
      call for a vote, but people are reluctant to do so. Is that because
      change would be "bad" or because they don't care?

      Maybe this is a good thing? Maybe static systems are better than
      wildly fluctuating ones for philosophical reasons?

      When things are very "easy" do the people take it for granted? What
      can we do to make people realize they can exercise power? It is
      extremely easy (compared to our population of 300 million) to get
      matters to Congress, and then to the States.

      Does the ease of petition make it an empty act? I don't even know how
      many petitions I have signed or not signed since 1986, when I first
      registered to vote. I suppose I've signed a dozen or so, with three of
      them calling for national amendments. (One was a call for term limits
      on Congress.)

      It's reach a point now that there are petition tables in front of most
      grocery stores and malls every spring. (A lot are paid to collect
      signatures!) People now ignore the petitions.

      What does this mean? Have organizations made the individual feel
      powerless? Have failed votes and political divisions turned-off voters?

      Prohibition passed quickly, and alcohol was banned. It was a time of
      social concern, and the public demanded action. The result: gangsters
      and rum runners. Almost as quickly, Prohibition was repealed. Those
      were the last "fast" national votes. Maybe Americans decided not to
      mess with things after that experience?

      Anything, any matter no matter how silly or even if it contradicts the
      existing laws, may be brought to a vote. As long as one state, just
      one, calls for an Amendment, it must be debated and sumbitted to the
      Congress for "certification" -- and then it heads to every state.

      Some Admendments (the 19th, 22nd) pass nationally very quickly. Others
      take a hundred years (literally!) because states can vote and revote
      until an Amendment is withdrawn. The last Amendment passed was
      submitted over 150 years ago and reconsidered every five years.

      With as few as 50,000 signatures, no filing fee, any proposal can be
      brought to vote in California. If the vote calls for the proposal of a
      U.S. Constitutional Amendment, it must be submitted to Congress for
      approval by 2/3 vote. Once Congress acts, the proposal goes to the
      other states, where at least 3/4 must approve for a proposal to amend
      the constitution.

      Recall, that unlike most nations, each state is incredibly autonomous.
      Our federal system is so weak as to be nearly meaningless at times.
      (Economy? The federal system doesn't even run the national bank. The
      U.S. is the only G7 nation with an independent banking system.) It's
      really hard to compare the U.S. to anything other than the European
      Union. (The Economist did that well.)

      The last national vote was on congressional pay, of all things. 1992
      was the last approved Amendment, though many have been submitted and
      failed. The Equal Rights Amendment was a big deal when I was in
      elementary school, and it went down in flames, mainly in the Southern

      So, while we do not vote often, it is as much a matter of culture as
      it is of law. While it is amazingly easy (statistically) to call for a
      national amendment, it seems people just don't care to do so.

      Example: Bush (who has no say in the matter) says he would support
      (which is all he could do) an Amendment defining marriage. Poll after
      poll shows the people will not accept such a vote and are unlikely to
      sign the petitions to force the matter.

      I don't know if you watch the Tonight Show, but it is sadly humorous
      when people cannot name one Amendment. Most can't name their own
      Senator or Congressional Rep. And you think these people would sign a

      Hate to admit it, but Arnold can get 50,000 signatures in a day. (He
      needed only 35,000 to run for office.) Bush could not get that many in
      seven years (the normal time limit to call for a vote on an
      Amendment). People just won't amend our laws that easily.

      - CSW
    • jerryjfortin@aol.com
      In a message dated 02/03/2004 7:18:08 AM Mountain Standard Time, ... I believe you are exactly right on this matter. Conflict will occur, and it is a question
      Message 76 of 76 , Mar 2, 2004
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        In a message dated 02/03/2004 7:18:08 AM Mountain Standard Time,
        kamy_ams@... writes:

        > Jerry,
        > that is exactly the point - it is business that drives globalisation on. it
        > is still going to take some time before the clash between business interests
        > and national interests will happen, but that is inevitable. hm an interesting
        > thought came to my mind - is this the time, when minority is deciding the
        > lives of majority? we talked a bit about how minority has to follow the rules
        > provided by the majority, but this situation is opposite, isn't it? it is
        > elitarian public that is deciding countries roles in global scene?
        > Amanda

        I believe you are exactly right on this matter. Conflict will occur, and it
        is a question of morality and ethics. From my viewpoint it is a question of
        morality from the viewpoint of business it is only ethics.


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