Why Term Limits Lost and Ranked Choice Voting Will Succeed

There have been two major attempts to change the calculus of elections and officeholders since the ‘90s. One is a top-down ‘reform’ that’s currently being imposed on voters a jurisdiction at a time. The other was a bottom–up effort imposed on the politicians. The fate of the two is very instructive.

Bill Schorr, San Clemente, CA

The top-down innovation is ranked–choice voting and the midterm congressional elections in Maine were the first federal contests to be decided by ranked choice.

Ranked choice works this way. In every race with more than two candidates, voters rank the contestants in order of preference like judges at a wet t–shirt contest.

In a multi–candidate field, if no one receives a majority, then all last–place finisher ballots are thrown out and those voter’s second choice becomes their new vote. If no one gets a majority then, the last place finisher’s votes continue to be tossed and second choices used until someone gets a majority or Trump declares martial law.

Boosters of ranked choice voting promote the change with feel–good promises that are mostly immune to verification. As the League of Women Voters demonstrates. According to that hen party ranked choice “promotes majority support…discourages negative campaigning…provides more choice…minimizes strategic voting…[and] saves money”.

What they don’t tell you is many elections are going to be decided by voters who are the worst at judging candidates and the issues that make them electable. The second–place votes of people whose candidate finished dead last are going to be used to determine a winner. That alone will put a spring in the step of Lyndon LaRouche and Deez Nuts voters.

What should disqualify ranked–choice voting from being used is not relying upon the whims of the incompetent to choose the winner. The big problem with the system is it’s unconstitutional.

By comparison, term limits was a bottom–up movement that swept the nation. Twenty–three states imposed term limits on politicians by 1995, compared to ranked choice voting’s tiny foothold in Maine and a handful of cities.

As long as opponents of an entrenched professional political class confined themselves to limiting officeholders in state and local jurisdictions they were initially successful. It was only when voters applied term limits to federal candidates that problems began.

Barnacle–like congressional incumbents knew they could never persuade voters to repeal term limits, so they enlisted the help of our politicians in black robes who really rule the country.

In U.S. Term Limits v. Thornton, the leftist majority on the Supreme Court ruled term limits unconstitutional because they allegedly violated Article 1, Section 2 of the Constitution by adding additional qualifications to who was eligible to run. Term limits did no such thing. Legislation that limits duration of service does not change the qualifications for service.

The Constitution is silent as to how many times a congressional candidate may run and how long he can hold office. In his Thornton decision dissent, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote, “Nothing in the Constitution deprives the people of each State of the power to prescribe eligibility requirements for the candidates who seek to represent them in Congress. The Constitution is simply silent on this question. And where the Constitution is silent, it raises no bar to action by the States or the people.”

The 10th Amendment also supports Justice Thomas: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” Which exactly describes a statewide referendum limiting terms in office.

Compare the court’s opinion of term limits with the obvious unconstitutionality of ranked choice voting. In Reynolds v. Sims, decided in 1964, the Supremes established the principle of one man, one vote.

Ranked choice voting violates this principle because the voters who supported the losing candidate have their votes counted twice. First for the loser and then for their second choice. The voters who had enough sense to vote for a viable candidate in the first place only have their votes counted once. It’s electoral affirmative action for the politically impaired.

The loser of the Maine race intends to challenge the result in court, but I’m not optimistic. For some reason, his lawyers ignore the obvious one man, one vote problem and instead focus on irrelevancies.

It will be interesting to see if the Supreme Court accepts the case and if it does, how the court will decide. Ranked choice is supported by all the best people and the Opposition Media. Plus, it’s used in foreign countries! Term limits had the disadvantage of only being supported by majorities of average voters in their respective states and we know how that turned out.

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That Long Winter at Valley Shutdown

The long winter at Valley Shutdown is evidently growing more dire for federal employees. They have now missed their FIRST paycheck. Repercussions from this disaster extend all the way into Latin America. My son was browsing the Facebook page for the Swamp suburb where we live. He came across a female federal employee who was distraught because the furlough had forced her to lay off the housekeeper.

Gary McCoy, Shiloh, IL

Other page members were discussing whether to organize a donation drive to supply homebound feds with gift cards for gas and groceries. It was certainly a touching message thread. It resembled an effort by restaurant kitchen staff to take up a collection for the health inspector.

Before you donate your tax refund to the Shutdown Privation Fund, I’d like to inject a note of reality. Homes in the neighborhood where the maid–less woman currently cries bitter tears have an average price of $345,000, according to Redfin. And those dwellings aren’t located on the water.

The average federal salary, according to OPM, is $81,578 while the median wage is $76,131. Neither numbers include federal benefits totaling upwards of $41,791 per civilian worker. The CBO found that regardless of education, federal wages and benefits far exceed those of the private sector where wages average $44,000 and benefits average $10,589.

Never was so much paid to so few by so many.

The local WoePost, excuse me, Washington Post has been extensively covering suffering in Valley Shutdown. On January 10th, there were so many federal sob–stories the topic almost pushed cloyingly coverage of illegal aliens off the front page. I counted a total of nine in section A alone.

My favorite was a front–page story of Dickensonian hardship headlined: “Government shutdown creates a January slowdown for businesses trying to adapt.” At Swann House “a cozy bed-and-breakfast in a fin de siècle mansion a few blocks from Dupont Circle, …impeccably decorated rooms are languishing in shutdown mode.”

No one to light the in–room fireplaces or tickle the ivories in the sitting room. Tugging at our heartstrings the reporter adds, “businesses are suffering as pieces of those paychecks stop trickling down to them.”

I hate to be the one who rains on Little Nell’s parade, but my question is what the heck are government employees doing staying at Swann House in the first place? Rooms there range from a low of $299 in the “Parisienne Suite” to $319 for the “Regent.” And that’s before DC’s gouge–the–tourist hotel and sales tax. When you add that the per night rate is $343 to $366.

Compare those rates with a hotel about a block away where rooms are $169 before tax. And lest you think well ‘who wants to dodge dookie and derelicts on the way in the lobby’, US News & World Report rates the Kimpton Carlyle the “Best Hotel in Washington DC.”

This hand–wringing coverage of employees who make more than the people who pay them and stay at tony hotels taxpayers can’t afford only proves how out–of–touch the Opposition Media and government ‘Resistance’ workers really are.

I’m waiting to read of the belt–tightening at Dean & DeLuca as truffle sales wither.

Reporters are so eager to cast blame on President Trump that industries formerly regarded as pariahs are now objects of sympathy. For example: “Government shutdown starting to burn aerospace and defense firms.”

Another amusing account was headlined: “Trump is right. Unpaid federal workers are making ‘adjustments’ — soliciting money from strangers and taking out loans.” People solicit money from strangers all the time in DC, usually at gunpoint. The idea that a total stranger could approach you and say, “I’m from the government and I need your help” is almost too rich.

Other coverage itemizes additional Shutdown havoc. The NTSB is forced to prioritize investigations, which sounds to me like a positive development. Since the weather isn’t stopping the Weather Service is still issuing forecasts, only now they worry federal workers won’t have enough money to clear grocery aisles of milk and toilet paper when warned of an impending snowflake.

The WoePost has also been trying to convince readers that food banks are full of GS–13s stocking up on pinto beans, but I’m not buying it.

Left out is the fact that when the feds return to what is generously called ‘work’ they’ll get back every last dime of the paychecks they missed. Ask a construction worker or union member who is laid off if that happens in their industry.

There’s a lesson in this for taxpayers. Not being able to survive missing a single paycheck — on a salary far better than that earned by taxpayers paying their wages — explains all you need to know about the people in charge of federal government financial planning.

Hospitals Guard Prices Like the CIA Guards Secrets

Way back in 2017, before we were on the Road to Nuremberg With Donald Trump, the Washington Post was outraged that hospitals were trying to make a profit. Like most stories involving reporters, economics and healthcare it was both wildly inaccurate and agenda–driven.

Adam Zyglis The Buffalo News NY

The story’s one useful service was it introduced the public to the slightly ominous term “Chargemaster.” At first glance, the term “Chargemaster” might be mistaken for the cause of the so–called epidemic of “mass incarceration.” A fiendish device district attorneys use to jail minorities captured during the government’s regular sweeps in low–income areas.

Even for those who haven’t been to jail, the term has unsavory associations bringing to mind arrogant, price–gouging, monopolies who look upon customers as rubes to be exploited. (Ticketmaster, come on down!)

In reality, the “Chargemaster” has more to do with pricing than policing. Theoretically, it’s a complete listing of all the services and procedures a hospital provides patients, followed by the cost for each item.

What the consumer doesn’t know is the price listed after any procedure is as hyperbolic as an entree description on a Trump restaurant menu. The cost paid by Medicare or a health insurance company often bears little relation to what’s listed on the Chargemaster. Just as the window sticker on a new car is only a starting place in the negotiation.

The US healthcare market is currently designed to guarantee high prices, encourage waste and discourage price shopping. That’s because consumers can get a binding estimate on building a house, but they can’t get any kind of estimate on removing a gall bladder. Requiring hospitals to post the Chargemaster on the web is supposed to give consumers this vital information, but in truth all it will give most of them is a headache.

I predict it will be easier to read the privacy agreement for Facebook victims than it is to comprehend the Chargemaster. If it were up to hospital administrators consumers wouldn’t even be able to find out what it cost to park until they tried to exit the lot. Instead of a simple procedure equals cost equation, the consumer will no doubt have to assemble the procedure himself, which is just how the hospitals want to keep it.

Maryland made a tentative effort to lift the cost veil. The Maryland Health Care Commission has a website with the inane name of “Wear the Cost,” which sounds like the surgery bill will be tattooed on your backside. Instead, it compares turnkey prices for common procedures affecting patients who are either women, old or both.

Consumers who fit within that medical straightjacket can finally see what hip replacement, knee replacement, hysterectomy and vaginal delivery prices are at 21 different hospitals. Unfortunately, hospital patients, like whiskey drinkers, tend to associate high cost with high quality. That’s not necessarily true as the medical complication and readmission rates for the procedures at various hospitals demonstrates.

Patients can have high–quality care for lower cost if they will only do their research among these limited options.

The feds need to build on the Chargemaster unveiling by demanding all hospitals that accept federal money post binding prices on the web for the 25 most common surgical procedures; the 25 most common outpatient procedures and the 25 most common tests. The listed, turnkey charges must also match the best price offered insurance companies.

That’s half the battle. The other half is getting the consumer to act on the information. In Maryland Sinai Hospital charges $32,500 for a knee replacement, while UMD Medical Center at Easton charges over one–third less at $22,700, with fewer readmissions. If the patient has a $3,000 deductible and the co–pay is 10 percent, many would still choose the more expensive Sinai because it wipes out their deductible and all the rest that year’s healthcare is ‘free’!

Smart insurance companies would give the patient an incentive to be a smart shopper by sharing the savings. Instead of pocketing the $9,800 saved by paying for the knee replacement at UMD Easton, the insurance company could share by applying ten percent of the savings to the patient’s deductible for that year.

The patient would pay ten percent of the procedure ($2,270) and the insurance company would apply ten percent of the savings ($980) and their deductible for the year would be satisfied. To ensure this wasn’t a one–time–only cost–conscious decision by the consumer, the insurer could continue to apply ten percent of procedure savings to future deductibles. This is good for the company because it reduces customer churn by giving the patient a reason not to change policies and the customer saves money on future deductibles.

That’s an ideal situation. What we have is Confusionmaster and that’s probably where the feds will call it quits.

America at a Rubicon Moment & MAGA Isn’t Enough

Author and speaker Os Guinness knows America is divided, but he has a different line of demarcation than some other cultural observers.  During an appearance at the Family Research Council in Washington to promote his new book: “Last Call for Liberty”, Guinness said the division is the difference between those who understand “the Republic viewed through the lens of the US revolution and those who view it through the lens of the French revolution.”

Rick Mckee, The Augusta Chronicle, GA

It’s a distinction between a successful revolution that was “profoundly biblical” here in the US and a revolution that was an “anti–biblical” failure in France.

Strangely enough, a rebooted French Revolution has seen remarkable success here. It’s now 50 years since German radical Rudi Dutschke called for revolutionaries to abandon violence and instead make a “long march through the institutions” and take over from the inside. Fortunately for the left their “long march” coincided exactly with conservative’s “long snooze.”

Since then the left has seized higher education and made potentially irreversible gains in government schools. The mass media serves as its propaganda arm, while the culture surrendered. Guinness acknowledges the left’s success and warns, “If they win, the American Republic is finished as the founders saw it.”

At the root of the conflict is the definition of freedom. Guinness believes America has failed to “wrestle with the paradox of freedom. Freedom tends to undermine freedom, because it carries within it the seeds of its own destruction.”

The second paradox of freedom, more important than the first although Guinness didn’t state it that way, is that the only framework strong enough to support freedom is that of individual self–restraint.

“Freedom is a challenge to responsibility,” he explained. “Today many of us want to be free, but don’t want to be responsible. The talk is always of rights and never of duties.” That line of thinking eventually leads either to the waiting room at Planned Parenthood, rehab clinics or Venezuela.

Guinness doesn’t believe either building the wall or Make America Great Again is enough. This doesn’t make him a never–Trumper exactly, but it does leave him skeptical. He’s disappointed that “no one at the highest level is addressing the founding principles of the nation” and one gets the feeling he doesn’t think President Trump is up to the task.

Guinness believes the underlying philosophies between the two sides are so divergent and the gulf between them so deep that America is at “a Rubicon moment.” Caesar crossed the Rubicon with his army and entered Rome. For America’s “Rubicon moment” Guinness is less martial. He turns instead to Starbucks for inspiration and suggests the country “have a conversation.” Since no one at Starbucks is currently talking about race at the pickup counter, there may be room for that discussion on freedom, but I have my doubts.

Guinness other recommendation is equally futile. “Americans need to know the ‘unum’ that balances the ‘pluribus,” he observed wryly. I’m in agreement, but his method is fatally flawed.

Guinness wants the same government schools that can’t persuade teenagers to use the bathroom that corresponds with their sex to reemphasize civics education by “teaching what it is to be a citizen.” I would settle for teaching boys what it is to be a man.

My suggestion involves education, too, but not in government schools. Ideally, Congress would pass legislation where education funding follows the child — like Medicare funding does for his grandpa — and any school public or private the kid chooses gets the money. Unfortunately, under the leadership of Curator of the Senate Mitch McConnell the comfortable conservatives in Congress will never do this.

The alternative is to take what already exists and reinforce it, which has happened successfully before. After Roe v. Wade was imposed on the country the Catholic church lead a lonely fight against abortion while Protestants and other Evangelicals sat on the sideline. It took entirely too long, but Protestants finally joined the fight and together with Catholics that have made great strides in protecting the unborn.

The same can be done for the culture.

The Catholics have been running an efficient school system for decades. I suggest Southern Baptists, orthodox independent churches and the remaining orthodox members mainline churches offer to join the Catholics and set up a nationwide network of Bible–based schools that emphasize civics and responsibility.

The Catholics would have to agree to compromise and allow Protestants to attend Protestant religious education classes while the Catholics attended theirs. Protestants would bring more money and more students while the Catholics supplied the buildings and the infrastructure. This ‘umum’ would produce a new generation of youth that would understand what Guinness is stressing: Real freedom is “the permission to do as you ought” rather than “the permission to do as you please.”