Math in a Republic vs. Democracy

While on Red Meat Radio this morning, Scott in Sandy called in to share how a Republic is more representative of the people than a Democracy. Here’s a simple analogy.

Lets say you have 100 people in your country. In a Democracy, you would need to get half plus one (50 +1) of the votes in an election, or 51.

On the other hand, if you had 10 states in this country with 10 people each (total population again 100), in each state you would need a simple majority again (5+1) which would be 6 votes in an election. This has the potential to give the winner 60 votes (6 times 10 states) which is more than a simple majority of 51 in a Democracy.

Republics therefore, better represent the majority of the population.

Thanks Scott!

23 Responses to “Math in a Republic vs. Democracy”

  • Charles:

    I think the math above is a bit flawed.

    First, it assumes that a collection of States (geographic representation) is
    equivalent to a “republic.” Of course, we can have a republican form of government without geographic representation, but practice has shown the benefits of including geography as one component of representation.

    Secondly, it assumes that someone must get a majority in each of the 10 States
    in order to win. This isn't how we do things.

    A majority in the majority of States requires 6 votes in 6 States or 36 votes.

    Of course, we incorporate both the geographic AND the popular votes into our
    system. So not only do you need 51 popular votes, BUT you ALSO need 36
    geographic votes. This prevents a simple majority from imposing their will on a
    simple minority. The point is lost with 10 States each having 10 voters. But
    imagine 10 States where 4 of those States have 20 voters each and the remaining 6 States
    have only about 3 1/3 votes each.

    In a simple democracy, the 80 voters in the 4 States could impose anything they
    wanted. But in our system, those 80 voters can do nothing without the assent of
    voters in at least 2 additional States. This is true directly in our congress
    with two houses. Our electoral college also incorporates this principle of
    geographic and popular elements of representation.

    It is a shame we've allowed the courts to undermine this principle inside the
    States by forcing a pure “one man, one vote” onto us. For example, while the
    current requirement to get so many signatures in each of 26 of 29 State Senate
    Districts, plus a total number of signatures in order to put an initiative on
    the ballot has some elements of geography, the older system of requiring
    signatures from some number of COUNTIES was an even stronger geographic
    component.

  • Chiu Chun-Ling:

    That's a sharp oversimplification. Because in the multi-state situation, you have the potential for the winner to win with 36 votes out of a hundred. And yet, this is actually beneficial to the individual voter in a mathematical sense.

    The advantage is theoretical leverage of the individual voter. Believe it or not, every voter in every state has more potential leverage in the multiple state/district setup. Because instead of a single swing-vote out of a hundred, you have ten swing votes, and each of those swing votes has a better than one in ten chance of being a swing vote for the election as a whole. That is to say, anyone might be in the 36 votes needed to win an election, and winning the election with 36 votes demonstrates greater individual leverage than winning with 51.

    Of course, this presents an increased danger of buying off critical swing-votes. A candidate who offers nothing positive to the country as a whole, but promises to plunder the property of 64 voters to buy the 36 winning votes can win if the government is not set up with strict limitations against that sort of behavior. The Constitution used to have those protections, but they have…eroded.

  • Anonymous:

    So, then you don’t like the system that works for better representation of each person?

    You should read Baker v. Carr. The problem was a tyranny of the minority. (Or listen to the oral arguments here, at the Oyez site.)

    Tyranny is tyranny, regardless if it’s headed up by a minority or a majority. Protection of individual rights is one way to fight tyranny, but I’ll wager you’re not a member of the only group sworn to uphold the Bill of Rights no matter what, the American Civil Liberties Union.

  • edarrell:

    If you had 1 citizen in each of nine states in your hypothetical, and 91 in the other, and you had a three-way race, such as Lincoln's election with about 39% of the vote, or Frank Moss's election in Utah with just over 40% of the vote, you could have a tyranny of the minority.

    In fact, a winning law could have the support of only six people out of 100.

    94% of the people ignored. It's still a republic, however. You could look it up.

    Our system is fit only for moral people, Adams, Jefferson and Madison agreed. The answer is education, and not nit-picky, mis-education that blocks a system and cries “foul” because our democratic republic is called a “democracy.” We have the most vibrant democracy in the world and we should be proud of it. As the American Legion guys in Pleasant Grove once told me, only communists and fools would try to cover it up.

    Which is “Utah's Republic,” communist, or fool?

    P.S.: If instead of making silly arguments over pedantry, we taught the Constitution with vigor, every child could know about Article IV of the Constitution. Why isn't that good enough for y'all? Bet you didn't consider it.

  • edarrell:

    Hey, Dear Moderator: Please get to your moderation list soon. I have a comment there tied up, probably because of three links included (assuming you do encourage reading the original sources for these ideas . . .).

  • Oak, I can’t find any place Jefferson said this:

    A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine. – Thomas Jefferson

    Are you sure it’s Jefferson? Where did he say it?

    I think, perhaps, you’ve been hoaxed.

  • Didn't consider that we ought to teach the constitution with vigor??? Have you read anything else on this website?

    As for a moral people, Washington said there could be no morality without religion and called it the “indispensable support,” not education. Obviously Jefferson and the Founders wanted education of the constitution to take place but we are very far removed from it in our education system.

    Nice that you brought up article IV of the constitution. It guarantees us “Republican” government and establishes the federal government can actually intervene on behalf of a state to protect it from being transformed into some other form of government like a Democracy.

    Democracy doesn't appear in any of the founding documents because it's majoritarianism which the Framers were against. I'm sure you've read these statements before, but you can't say the Founders wanted a Democracy for our form of government.

    Democracy… while it lasts is more bloody than either aristocracy or monarchy. Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide. – John Adams

    A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine. – Thomas Jefferson

    The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not. – Thomas Jefferson

    Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote. – Benjamin Franklin

    Democracy is the most vile form of government… democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention: have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property: and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths. – James Madison

    As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy. – Abraham Lincoln

    Oak

    P.S. I'd guess the American Legion guys actually know us as a Republic. If not, they need to recite the pledge of allegiance at their next meeting and pay attention.

  • Oak, do you have any citations for any of those quotes? I think you may have been hoaxed on the Jefferson quote (moderators? Can you speed my post through?).

    I suspect most of those quotes are not as listed, from the people to whom they are attributed.

    Got any specifics we can use to track 'em down?

  • For example, a search at the Library of Jefferson at the Liberty Fund produces zero hits for “mob.”

    This is what I fear from such pedantry: You're asking a change in policy based on an inaccurate view of history.

  • There is also this: Jefferson thought a democracy superior to a republic in the way it would treat slaves (have any of you searched Jefferson's real writings, not the Tea Party boiled down and inaccurate versions?):

    Since writing my letter of July the 12th, I have been told, that on the question of equal representation, our fellow citizens in some sections of the State claim peremptorily a right of representation for their slaves. Principle will, in this, as in most other cases, open the way for us to correct conclusion. Were our State a pure democracy, in which all its inhabitants should meet together to transact all their business, there would yet be excluded from their deliberations, 1, infants, until arrived at years of discretion. 2. Women, who, to prevent depravation of morals and ambiguity of issue, could not mix promiscuously in the public meetings of men. 3. Slaves, from whom the unfortunate state of things with us takes away the right of will and of property. Those then who have no will could be permitted to exercise none in the popular assembly; and of course, could delegate none to an agent in a representative assembly. The business, in the first case, would be done by qualified citizens only. It is true, that in the general constitution, our State is allowed a larger representation on account of its slaves. But every one knows, that that constitution was a matter of compromise; a capitulation between conflicting interests and opinions. In truth, the condition of different descriptions of inhabitants in any country is a matter of municipal arrangement, of which no foreign country has a right to take notice. All its inhabitants are men as to them. Thus, in the New England States, none have the powers of citizens but those whom they call freemen; and none are freemen until admitted by a vote of the freemen of the town. Yet, in the General Government, these non-freemen are counted in their quantum of representation and of taxation. So, slaves with us have no powers as citizens; yet, in representation in the General Government, they count in the proportion of three to five; and so also in taxation. Whether this is equal, is not here the question. It is a capitulation of discordant sentiments and circumstances, and is obligatory on that ground. But this view shows there is no inconsistency in claiming representation for them for the other States, and refusing it within our own. Accept the renewal of assurances of my respect.
    Monticello, Oct. 8, 16

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    Found in: Thomas Jefferson, The Works of Thomas Jefferson, vol. 1 (Autobiography, Anas, 1760-1770) > INTRODUCTION > paragraph 9

    The political theories and usages originated or adopted by Thomas Jefferson have shown such persistence and permanence in their value to our people and government as to demonstrate a far deeper and broader principle underlying them than is always recognized. In popular estimation, Jefferson stands as the founder of the Democratic party, and the developer of the theory of State Rights; and on these foundations are based the so called “Jeffersonian principles,” and the respect and acceptance, as well as the criticism and contravention, accorded to them. That this basis was deemed sufficient during his life, is natural, for judgment of a living man must always be partial and superficial. That this limited view should during that time acquire prestige and momentum enough to project it into history, is not strange, the more that the logical conclusions of certain theories advanced by him suited the policy of one of our political parties. The acceptance of this limited view has enabled his antagonists and critics to charge him with hypocrisy, opportunism, and even lack of any political principles; and the contradictions and instability they have cited in his opinions and conduct have embarrassed even his most devoted adherents. If this limited view is still to be accepted as sufficient and final, these criticisms must stand:—His advocacy of a weak national government; with his complaints that it was “a rope of sand,” and his far-reaching augmentations to its power. His advocacy of a strict construing of our constitution; and yet his so exceeding the implied powers granted by it, as to make it, in his own words, “waste paper.” His support of the State governments as “sovereign”; and his dislike and attempted changes in and over-riding of their constitutions. His arguments in favor of an absolutely independent jury and judiciary; and his attacks on both. His desire for a national navy; and his later opposition. His demands that the executive and legislative departments should be beyond reciprocal influence; yet, when president, his interference in the latter to an extent which led to a stinging rebuke on the floor of Congress in open debate. His dread of a partizan civil service as a means of influencing and defeating free elections, and his oft repeated claim that public officers should be selected only on their merit; while himself inaugurating the spoils system, sending his political friends commissions in blank, and retaining a federalist official “because of his connections.” His disapproval of the re-eligibility of the president, and advocacy of rotation in office to prevent the creation of a bureaucracy; with his subsequent willingness that the former should serve more than two terms, and his writing to a superannuated appointee, “would it be a relief to transfer the office to your son, for your use, with the understanding that it should be afterwards continued with him for the benefit of the family?” His opposition to the alien act; and his framing of a bill directed against foreigners of far greater injustice than that enactment. His support of the passage of the funding and assumption act; and his unending opposition to its execution. His condemnation of the national bank, not merely on constitutional grounds, but because he believed it to be unduly influencing the national government; yet when himself at the head of that government advocating “a judicious distribution” of favors to that and other banks “to engage the individuals who belong to them in support” of his administration. His early opposition to national internal improvements, his later recommendation of this policy to Congress, and his final resolutions declaring it unconstitutional. His arguments and labors in opposition to slavery; while owning many negroes, and refusing to act as executor of a will because the testator freed his slaves—And many other actions apparently implying so little principle, or views so shifting, as superficially to reduce them to nothing else than a mass of inconsistencies, each one notable only for its immediate results. Judged by these standards, the marvel of the Federalists and his later critics, that he should have been the chosen instrument of American democracy, is proper. The scholarly and reclusive nature of his tastes and studies; the retiring and limited character of his intercourse with the world; the influence of his social equals; his dislike of party and personal antagonism; and his sensitiveness to abuse and criticism, make his acceptance of that leadership, as strange a problem, as that the people should have chosen for their representative a man lacking nearly all of the personal qualities which are presumed to win popularity with the masses. And only explicable from the narrow view of his critics as the success of an ambitious and unprincipled self-seeking man, attained by astuteness and chicane so great as to deceive the masses.

    Found in: Thomas Jefferson, The Works of Thomas Jefferson, vol. 1 (Autobiography, Anas, 1760-1770) > INTRODUCTION > paragraph 13

    The masses are by their nature and condition, however, negative rather than positive, and when constructive, rather than destructive or obstructive force is required, they are compelled to delegate a portion of their powers. Thus, in the re-building of government, the classes secured an influence far out of proportion to their numbers. In the State constitutions, they succeeded in somewhat curtailing and limiting the popular control; and later, in the formation of our national constitution they sought still further to wrest powers from the people, both by grants, which interposed barriers to the direct delegation of power from the people to the executive, judiciary, and one of the legislative branches, and by clauses purposely worded so as to leave the question of the quantity of power granted to the decision of men who would almost certainly be drawn from the classes. And a resulting political party attempted to carry this policy still further. Had government been merely a matter of intellect and ability, the Federalists would have succeeded in controlling and fixing its character in this country. That when they had done their work of construction, they were excluded from office, without ever comprehending the reason, proves how little they understood the tendency, intelligence, and power of the forces they were attempting to circumscribe. Unlike the Federalists, Jefferson was willing to discard the tradition of ages—that the people must be protected against themselves by the brains, money, and better “elements” of the country—and for this reason American democracy made him its chosen agent and mouth-piece.

    Found in: Thomas Jefferson, The Works of Thomas Jefferson, vol. 7 (Correspondence 1792-1793) > OPINION ON FRENCH TREATIES W. MSS. > paragraph 856

    “It is certain that every alliance made with a republic, is real, & continues consequently to the term agreed on by the treaty, altho’ the magistrates who concluded it be dead before, or that the form of government is changed, even from a democracy to a monarchy: for in this case the people does not cease to be the same, and the King, in the case supposed, being established by the consent of the people, who abolished the republican government, is understood to accept the crown with all the engagements which the people conferring it had contracted, as being free & governing themselves. There must nevertheless be an Exception of the alliances contracted with a view to preserve the present government. As if two Republics league for neutral defence against those who would undertake to invade their liberty: for if one of these two people consent afterwards voluntarily to change the form of their government, the alliance ends of itself, because the reason on which it was founded no longer subsists.”

    Found in: Thomas Jefferson, The Works of Thomas Jefferson, vol. 12 (Correspondence and Papers 1816-1826) > 1816 – TO SAMUEL KERCHEVAL > paragraph 882

  • Ooops. Sorry about the extra material. Editing quickly to get to a meeting.

  • edarrell:

    The Madison quote is in error. Madison did not call democracies “vile.” See here:
    http://timpanogos.wordpress.com/2010/04/25/more

  • OK, here's the long overdue reply and also a note that this last comment which I'm replying to was the only comment of yours stuck in the moderation queue.

    First, a little background on the quotes. Just a few days prior to your first post above, I received an email from a woman who has written 2 books on the Founding of America (Mary Mostert). When I saw your email, I grabbed those quotes and posted them without vetting them myself because the source was trusted (though she had no idea I was going to post them). So when you challenged the quotes, I looked up what I could immediately find and then asked her for verification. She finally got back to me after I replied to her asking a second time since the first time got lost in her lengthy email box.

    So here the quotes are again with notes and citations so readers don't have to scroll back to the top to view them. Notes after a quote are mine unless I put “Mary M.” next to the statement.

    1) “Democracy… while it lasts is more bloody than either aristocracy or monarchy. Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide.” – John Adams, letter to John Taylor, April 15, 1814.—The Works of John Adams, ed. Charles Francis Adams, vol. 6, p. 484 (1851).

    2) “The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not. – Thomas Jefferson” -*Mary M*: The Monticello organization says this quote is not found in the writings of Thomas Jefferson but is based on “Jefferson's comment in a prospectus for his translation of Destutte de Tracy's Threatise on Political Economy: 'To take from one, because it is thought that his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, 'the guarantee to every one of a free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it.”

    3) “Democracy is the most vile form of government… democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention: have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property: and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.” – James Madison
    –This was what I originally posted above. As you noted, the first phrase using the word vile does not appear in “The Federalist Papers,” No. 10 where the rest of this quote is from. http://www.constitution.org/fed/federa10.htm This publication by Madison does a great job talking about Republic/Democracy differences.

    4) “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.” – Benjamin Franklin
    *Mary M*: While this is widely quoted… I can't find it in any referenced papers written by Benjamin Franklin. Obviously, his best quote is when he was asked by a woman following the Constitutional Convention of 1787 “Well, Dr. Franklin, what have you done for us?” and Franklin quickly responded, “My dear lady, we have given to you a republic–if you can keep it.”

    5) “As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy.” – Abraham Lincoln
    *Mary M*: This is extensively quoted – see http://quotationsbook.com/quote/10465/ – which references Volume 5 of the Writings of Abraham Lincoln. Of course, Lincoln was a Republican and his major political opposition in 1860 was John Breckinridge – Southern Democrat. The issue was quite lively during the Civil War. In fact… the Democrats issue was that… the states had the right to have slavery since the majority of the people in the Southern states favored it… which the Northern states had voted to do away with slavery. This is the foundation of the States' Rights issue which is again popping up in the Tea Party Movement. It is exactly the issue behind the consitutional challenges of currently 21 states to the Health Care bill being unconstitutional.

    6) “A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.” – Thomas Jefferson

    When I asked Mary about this quote, this was her reply which she has given permission for me to post.
    *******************

    Oak,
    This is probably not going to be a short e-mail! I am well aware, because of the research I did for my books on the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution, that Thomas Jefferson changed his mind quite a bit between the time that he was Ambassador to France. From 1785-1789..when France still was a Monarchy – to the late 1790s Jefferson changed his mind about a number of issues.

    The quote attributed to Jefferson about a Democracy being “mob rule” is quite well known.. but I've suspected it might not be a direct quote. Jefferson simply NEVER talked much in sound bites. He was verbose.

    And, when the French Revolution began, in 1793, he was a supporter of the Revolutionists who had stormed the Bastille. In fact, in he wrote a very long letter to George Washington, who, as president, had declared neutrality for the USA and was coping with the French Ambassador, Edmund Genet, the Girondin's appointee, who had arrogantly arrived in the USA and had in effect set up a French War Department on American soil in Charleston, SC, to take advantage of the port and its closeness with the West Indies to outfit privateers to disrupt British trade in the area, while whipping up pro-French sentiment among the Americans.

    I talk about this situation in my book on the Constitution. Shortly after Washington was inaugurated for his second term, in April of 1793 he sent 13 questions to his cabinet asking them each if “a minister from the Republic of France should be received and whether treaties signed with the previous government … i.e. the king the Girondins had just beheaded, with France were still valid and whether the war France had just declared against Britain was “offensive or defensive.” Jefferson's letter was in response to Washington's question. Alexander Hamilton had immediately seen the problems the behavior of the French ambassador could cause the USA … and encouraged Washington to declare neutrality. Which he declared… and which cost Washington a huge amount of support.

    What was going on among the nations were exactly what you guys are experiencing in the Alpine School District, only people were dying, not just arguing. The chaos in France that developed after the storming of the Bastille and the birth of “democracy” (although they claimed they were setting up a Republic)… was a great challenge to President Washington. So… the problem isn't new. It took place in Washington's Second term. This was one of the issues that caused friction between Jefferson and John Adams. Adams scolded Thomas Jefferson for failing to react “when ten thousand people in the streets of Philadelphia, day after day, threatened to drag Washington out of his house and effect a revolution in the government or compel it to declare war in favor of the French Revolution and against England.”

    Had Washington taken Jefferson's advice and sided with France, we would not have a country. It would have gone bankrupt back around the time of the War of 1812 had we gotten involved in the world's first world war… the Seven Years war in Europe in the 1790s. Incidentally, I quote Alexander Hamilton's analysis of the situation in my book:
    “Hamilton’s analysis of the situation at the time bears repeating. In May of 1793, Hamilton was pretty much alone in the level of his concern over the direction the French Revolution was taking, and was warning it could not succeed. He also was the lone, public voice in the cabinet in support of President Washington. He wrote:

    “It cannot be without danger and inconvenience to our interests to impress on the nations of Europe an idea that we are actuated by the same spirit which has for some time past fatally misguided the measures of those who conduct the affairs of France, and sullied a cause one glorious, and that might have been triumphant.

    “The cause of France is compared with that of America during its late Revolution. Would to Heaven that the comparisons were just! Would to heaven we could discern, in the mirror of French affairs, the same decorum, the same gravity, the same order, the same dignity, the same solemnity, which distinguished the cause of the American Revolution! Clouds and darkness would not then rest upon the issue as they now do. I own I do not like the comparison.

    “When I contemplate the horrid and systematic massacres of the 2n and 3d of September; (1792), when I observe that a Marat and a Robespierre, the notorious prompters of those bloody scenes sit triumphantly in the convention, and take a conspicuous part in its measures – that an attempt to bring the assassins to justice has been obliged to be abandoned; when I see an unfortunate prince, whose reign was a continued demonstration of the goodness and benevolence of his heart, of his attachment to the people of whom he was the monarch, who, though educated in the lap of despotism, had given repeated proofs that he was not the enemy of liberty, brought precipitately and ignominiously to the block without any substantial proof of guilt, as yet disclosed – without even an authentic exhibition of motives, in decent regard to the opinions of mankind; when I find the doctrines of atheism openly advanced in the convention, and heard with loud applauses; when I see the sword of fanaticism extended to force a political creed upon citizens who were invited to submit to the arms of France as the harbingers of liberty; when I behold the hand of rapacity outstretched to prostrate and ravish the monuments of religious worship, erected by those citizens and their ancestors; when I perceive passion, tumult, and violence usurping those seats where reason and cool deliberation ought to preside, I acknowledge that I am glad to believe there is no real resemblance between what was the cause of America and what is the cause of France; that the difference is no less great than that between liberty and licentiousness.

    “I regret whatever has a tendency to confound them and I feel anxious, as an American, that the ebullitions of inconsiderate men among us may not tend to involve our reputation in the issue.”

    In 1794, the Girondins beheaded Marie Antoinette along with 17,000 other French men, women and children. As I point out in my book on the Constitution: “While Washinton's neutrality policy, from an historic perspective, had allowed America to grow stronger and avoid the cost of another war, at the time there was a growing criticism of Washington by those who had gotten caught up in the philosophies of Edmund Genet and the notions of democratic mob action as the 'right' of citizens when disgruntled. In 1791 Congress had passed an excise tax on whiskey, which farmers in Western Pennsylvania strongly objected to and were determined to ignore. Washington wrote to Gov. Henry Lee of Virginia, “I consider this insurrection as the first formidable fruit of the Democratic Societies; brought forth I believe too prematurely for their own views, which may contribute to the annihilation of them.

    “That these societies were instituted by the artful and designing members (many of their body I have no doubt mean well, but know littler of the real plan) primarily to sow the seeds of jealousy and distrust among the people, of the government, by destroying all confidence in the Administration of it.”

    Washington took firm action, leading the army himself, to put down the whiskey rebellion.

    I can fully understand why many people would doubt that Thomas Jefferson said that Democracy was “mob rule” … although, of course, it is. Certainly before the total breakdown of law in France, which led to Napoleon and then back to a king, Jefferson did support maintaining the treaties signed by the king to assist those who beheaded him. When he saw the results of democracy in France … he modified his position at least to the point that when he was president he was able to take action in buying Louisiana Territory from Napoleon.. even though there was no clear authorization to do so in the U.S. Constitution.

    Mary Mostert
    *******************

    So to summarize, 2 of the quotes appear to be inaccurate, one with a bad phrase. My apologies for posting something which I thought was accurate and didn't look into. My fault.

  • edarrell:

    I think the majority of the “quotes” are bad, misplaced, edited, and otherwise in error.

    It would have gone bankrupt back around the time of the War of 1812 . . .

    That's really funny. The U.S. in fact did run out of money in the War of 1812. We were saved by Stephen Girard, the richest man in the world, a shipping magnate living in Philadelphia. Girard had come from France to the U.S. near the time of the American revolution and, finding no official discrimination against atheists, decided to live here. Girard opened his bank vaults to Madison to fund the War of 1812 when the U.S. Treasury ran dry. He personally financed our war, and he got jilted on a significant portion of the debt.

    Had it been up to Christians alone, we'd be British subjects today.

    I wonder whether the rest of her response is as far off the mark.

  • NKelsier:

    Oak, this is why the various states challenges to the health care bill is silly.

    US Constitution, Article 1 section 8:
    The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

    Then there is this in the same Article:
    To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes;

    And this:
    To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.

    Now unless you really want to pretend that health care isn't by definition in the interest of “general welfare of the United States” that argument is DOA. it was DOA at the conclusion of the US civil war. It was DOA when the Supreme Court ruled that the states can't secede and can't nullify federal law.

    And exactly where were you and your fellow tenthers when George W Bush was running roughshod over your interpretation of the 10th Admendment. You remember surely? When he and Congress engaged in the Terry Schivao debacle? When he blocked California from legalizing medicinal pot? When he blocked California from legislating stricter auto emissions then the feds had? Oh and lets remember Bush's little thing regarding medicare and prescriptions.

    15+ years since Bill Clinton's attempt at health care reform died because of your ilk. 15 years since your side promised “The free market will correct the health care industries problems.” 15+ years since the health insurance companies promised they would fix their problems. 15+ years they did not keep their word. 15+ years the free market didn't do as you said it would do. 15+ years of your party doing nothing except letting the insurance companies make ever more money off the suffering of ever more people. And your party has no answers on how to reform health care. The republicans can be the “Party of No” all they want but at some point here they're going to have to actually fix the problems in this country. And when it comes to health care reform..they have no answers at all. 50,000 people die every year because of a lack of adequate health care. 60% of all bankruptcies in this country are because of health care. In the last ten years the health insurance companies have raised the premiums 150+ percent. In the last ten years the health insurance companies all reported record profits every year.

    No more, Oak. I don't care about your stupid interpretation of the 10th Admendment, it's stupid, it's unethical and it's immoral. Your side has such an irrational hatred of the government but yet you forget that in a democracy, and yes I'm using that word, the people are the government. Since your side didn't keep the American people safe from the rampant greed of the health insurance companies my side chose to do so. My side chose to do the job your side blatantly failed to do.

    And if your party repeals that bill or somehow gets it overturned, Oak, your party is delivering anywhere between 30 million and 50 million people to my party. Because I rather doubt those people are going to be real fond of yours when you take their health care away.

    Oh and by the way…since the US Supreme Court has never ruled Medicare, Social Security or the medical benefits that we the taxpayers provide the people in the military..I don't think you should be counting on them doing so now. But tell me..if you Republicans are so sure that the government ensuring health care to its people is unconstitutional..when are you going to demand that the Republican lawmakers all give up their government provided health care?

    And lastly..that health care reform bill doesn't set up a government run health care system no matter how delusional your side gets. Though God knows I wish it would since every country on the planet that has government run health care has better health care then we do and for cheaper.

    Your party did nothing. Where do you get off complaining that my party did otherwise? You want to complain? Then come up with a solution to the problem instead of merely screaming “No!” at the top of your lungs.

  • NKelsier:

    Oak..have you read Article 1 Section 8 of the US Constitution? The part that authorizes Congress to legislate laws and taxes to see to the “general welfare of the United States”? Or do you really want to try arguing that ensuring that everyone has adequate health care is something other then “general welfare”?

    The tenthers argument is nonsense. First off, the US Supreme Court has never ruled that interpretation of the Tenth Admendment valid. Secondly..where exactly where the tenthers when the Republicans were ignoring that interpretation of the 10th Admendment? You know..the Terry Schivao case, the Republicans blocking California from legalizing pot, the Republicans blocking California from having stricter auto emissions then the federal government? Oh yes lets not forget there's George Bush's push for medicare reform regarding prescription drugs.

    In the last ten years insurance premiums have risen 150%. In the last ten years every insurance company made record profits. Each year 50,000 people die because of a lack of adequate health insurance. 15+ years ago the insurance companies promised they would fix their problems and deliver health care to everyone. They lied. 15 years you Republicans promised that the free market would fix the problems. You lied. And there you sit..in your moral depravity willing to let this continue because 1: You don't like Obama and 2: You'd rather a group of greedy depraved people continue to screw over the lives of the American people then do your moral duty as an citizen of this country and stop it.

    Lincoln if he saw the Republican party of today would spit in their faces. That the party that kept this country together and fought the secessionists and the “states rightists” have become the party of the secessionists and the “state rightists.” If the founding fathers had wanted a weak central government, little one, they would have kept the Articles of Confederation. The tenth admendment doesn't do you what you pretend it does. And if you really thought it did..you and your fellow REpublicans would give up their medicare, social security and veteran's benefits. Oh and do bother to remember the US Supreme Court has never ruled those things unconstitutional. Do you think they're really going to do so now? You do know who provides their health care right?

    As for your quixotic crusade against that school..a republic is a type of democracy. So what are you complaining about? They're not engaging in “teaching socialism” despite your delusion to the contrary. You have no proof..you have no evidence. All you have is some stupid nonsense claim. And all because you lost your mind in a stupid fit of hysteria.

    Your side has such an irrational hatred of government but yet your side has forgotten that in a democracy, and yes I'm using that word, we the people are the government. So it really means that when you don't trust the government..when you fear the government..when you hate the government..you are distrusting, fearing and hating the citizens of the United States.

  • NKelsier:

    Anyways, forgot one last thing.

    Oak, I very much doubt you could accurately define socialism if you tried. Oh..and don't use the dictionary for it. Dictionaries give “common” definitions for terms which is why anti-evolution people keep on thinking that the definition for the word theory that is the layman's definition is the one that science uses, for example, when its not.

    The government doing something that the private sector also does isn't socialism..unless you're willing to claim the existance of the US military is a “socialist” thing because after all..we do have private military contractors.

    If you think the United States is heading towards socialism..if you commonly use the word “socialism” in reference to Europe then you're either woefully ignorant or willfully lying.

    But anyways…if you're so “anti-socialist” as you claim..let me know when you're going to sign a legal document surrendering your social security and medicare.

    But don't worry..I won't be holding my breath waiting for that to happen. After all..spouting off inanities then claiming those inanities are your principles is so much easier then actually following the principles you claim.

  • NKelsier:

    Hm, that's funny. Sorry about the two replies saying roughly the same thing. I thought the first one didn't get posted so I sent the second one.

  • Ignorance is bliss:

    What was actually discussed at the creation of the Constitution about general welfare…
    “Mentioned in the United States' Preamble to the Constitution, “Welfare” means health, happiness, prosperity or well-being. The country has an interest in promoting or maintaining the well-being and liberty of its people.

    A common misconception is that the “General Welfare” mentioned in the constitution is synonymous with our modern “welfare” programs.

    Congress was granted the power to promote the general welfare of the nation by the Constitution of the United States. It means that Congress should provide laws that are in keeping with the principles of the self governed. It means that Congress may provide legislation that acts in a general best interest of a nation.

    —-
    Actually, the General Welfare clause, as it became known, was a limitation of federal power written into the Preamble. Benjamin Franklin, during the Constitutional Convention, proposed a tax for canals. Canals were important for businesses to receive and ship merchandise.

    Gouverneur Morris of New York argued that it wasn't right to tax the whole people while only those towns that had canals would benefit. This started a discussion about the powers of the federal government to tax.

    They finally came up with the General Welfare clause which the Founders meant that unless the whole people of the United States would benefit from the tax, you should not promote it. Only the general, or the whole, welfare of the people should benefit from the tax.

    In those days they did not call what we now call welfare, welfare. They called it “poor relief”. The concept of the term “welfare” for poor relief was unknown and is a false modern interpretation.

    Here is a quote that might explain why we are debating this issue.
    “Taxes and General Welfare
    One example is the general welfare clause in Article One, Section Eight, Clause One. This is where we are told that Congress has the authority to tax and spend for three purposes: one is for the common defense, two is to pay debts and three is to promote the general welfare. Now that is a grant of power, but it's also a limitation of power. Why did they say general welfare instead of just welfare? Because they meant it was not to tax and spend for the specific welfare of regions, individuals, or soci-economic groups.

    We held that position up until about 1936, thanks to Justices like George Sutherland who believed in the framers' intent. But in 1937 we saw a shift in this view.

    In the Steward Machine case the Court suggests, when you give a subsidy to one group, that group will promote other groups. You know they'll buy things and that will stimulate the economy. They'll buy groceries and that will help the grocers. They'll buy houses and that will help the housing industry.

    What the Court effectively did back then was to scratch out the word “general” from Article One, Section Eight, clause one. And now Congress can tax and spend for the welfare of almost anything it pleases.

    The example I use is the John Eidsmoe Benevolent Fund. I've been trying to get an appropriation of about $10 million for that. I'll use it to buy a nice ski condo up at Snowbird and maybe another at Vale and maybe another over at Cloudmount in Alabama. I'll buy a fleet of cars and a Lear jet so I can travel back and forth. I'll stimulate the real estate industry, the ski industry, the lumber industry, the construction industry, the automobile industry, and the like.

    Obviously that's not what the framers had in mind when they said general welfare.

    On Regulating Commerce

    The commerce clause is a similar example, where the framers said that Congress could regulate commerce among the states, but not within a state. Article One, Section Eight, clause three identifies three types of commerce that could be regulated: Indian Commerce, International Commerce and Interstate Commerce—not Intrastate Commerce.

    But in 1937 that again was changed. In the Jones and Laughlin Steel case, the court said that the National Labor Relations Board could regulate local steel labor's dispute within the state itself. The Court held that those unresolved disputes could lead to steel strikes and steel strikes could lead to the shut-down of the production of steel. A shut down of the production of steel could lead to a shut-down of the free flow of steel between states and so, to preserve the free flow of steel in interstate commerce, Congress could regulate local labor disputes.

    In the Darby case, a couple of years later, the courts said that Congress could regulate the production of anything that is going to be sold in interstate commerce.

    Then in 1942 the Wickner vs. Filbum case went one step further. The Department of Agriculture fined a filmier for growing an excess number of acres of wheat. “You can't do that,” he said “Oh, yes we can,” said the Department. “Where do you find any authority for that in the Constitution?” he asked The Department answered, “The Interstate Commerce clause.” Then the farmer said, “Wait a minute here. How can you say that the wheat I grew on my own farm and used as feed for my own pigs is Interstate Commerce?” And the Court, in effect, replied, “that is very simple. You see, if you hadn't raised that excess wheat, you would have had to have taken some of the wheat from your allotted acres to feed your pigs. Then you would have sold less. So that would have affected commerce. Or, if you had sold all of your wheat, then you would have had to buy wheat on the market for your hogs; and that would have affected interstate commerce. So you have potentially affected interstate commerce and therefore you should be regulated.”

    So the Court has just taken a magic wand to the Interstate Commerce clause and stretched it to mean that Congress can regulate practically anything it wants to regulate.

    The result of this is a phenomenal growth in the size of government today. If you look at the budget back in 1832 it was only $11 million. We have to take it in steps to see how its grown since then.

    There's been about a ten-fold population increase and some inflation, though not much during that first century. But let's say that the budget has to grow a thousand fold. If we took that $11 million budget in 1832 and multiplied it by a thousand we'd get $11 billion. But our budget is a lot bigger than that. If you multiplied it by a hundred thousand times, then you'd get somewhere close $1.1 trillion. In fact, our budget today is about 1.6 trillion dollars, that's about a hundred fifty thousand times what the budget was in 1832. And that's just the federal budget. State and local budgets have grown as well. Why? Because the court has broken the chains of the Constitution and the dangerous servant is becoming a fearful master.

    “So the Court has just taken a magic wand to the Interstate Commerce Clause and stretched it to mean that Congress can regulate practically anything it wants to regulate.”

    So if you study history and know what you are talking about you obviously see we are not taught in schools history nor the Constitution.

    We are where Germany was in 1938 with their Messiah.

  • David N. Cox:

    Here is what I think of your comment, NKelsier, to use your own words: “I don't care about your stupid interpretation of the 10th Admendment, it's stupid, it's unethical and it's immoral.”

    You are in such a dark liberal cave, that we could totally prove and bring you into the daylight, but you would close your eyes to it. Why? because you want what you want and won't let wisdom or history show you different. You twist them to suit your desires.

    Freedom cannot happen unless there is a real chance of failure along side a chance for success. To be free to choose what is necessary for success, there MUST be the possibility of failure by not making that choice. Socialists, communists, and liberals want to eliminate that possibility by having government solve it, or at least they appeal to the masses (through democratic means!) by promising that faulty possibility. They always start out with some beneficial cause, but history has proven that given the kind of power necessary to try (which attempts are always unsuccessful), ALL governments will abuse that power and trod on the people who gave it to them.

    That is why, particularly the federal government, has NO business in what we now call welfare, or the covering up of the consequences of bad choices, and even bad luck. The word's use now is not what the founders meant in the Constitution. Giving or allowing the national (because it is not really a federal government anymore) government the ability to take the resources from the citizenry to eliminate these consequences, eliminates the incentive to make correct choices, including the act of charity.

    Your kind of government eventually makes peasants and slaves of the people instead of developing them, partly by learning from their own mistakes, into self-governing, responsible citizens.

    We are trying to educate the people and set up and return to the kind of government which allows success. This necessitates the allowing of failure. Under our kind of government most of the people will eventually choose to do what is necessary for success. Some will of course choose not to. Yours make ALL people failures even while you proclaim to have eliminated failure.

    Our type of government created the most successful and responsible people in the history of the world long before there was any “welfare” or safety net. Your kind of government, which is what we have practiced in varying degrees ever since FDR, has produced a huge minority of dependents. Liberals continue to promise this growing group of people everything without their effort in exchange for votes, the democratic process!

    Perhaps this is why the word demagogue and democracy start the same way. Demagogues always use democracy to gain absolute power by promising whatever the people want. WE WANT OUR CONSTITUTIONAL REPUBLIC BACK!!

  • Seth:

    I'm just going to point out one thing:

    'Or do you really want to try arguing that ensuring that everyone has adequate health care is something other then “general welfare”?'

    I for one, actually will argue that “ensuring that everyone has adequate health care” is NOT good for the general welfare. People need to ensure themselves or else you get a lazy populace. If I want health care bad enough, I'm going to do what it takes to have it. I don't want it forced on me, and I don't want the government making health care decisions for me.

    Give me my freedom. Let me make my own choices, and let everyone else make theirs. The more trust you place in the government instead of individuals, the lazier individuals get.

  • lewisbarnavelt:

    Of course 3,500 delegates can decide who will be the next Senator of Utah. 3,500 delegates times 50 = 175,000 delegates can decide the entire makeup of the Legislative Branch (if all states had such a system). While a pure democracy is not desirable, a true Republic is also not desirable. Just ask the ancient Romans.