Daily Wisdom

March 17, 2010

Think Paine

I have heretofore likewise mentioned the necessity of a large and equal representation; and there is no political matter which more deserves our attention. A small number of electors, or a small number of representatives, are equally dangerous. But if the number of the representatives be not only small, but unequal, the danger is increased. --Thomas Paine, COMMON SENSE

Thomas Paine penned these words before the Declaration of Independence was even framed, but they are no less valid today. He suggested the need for a balance in government, where the "electors" (ie, the populace) are represented in Congress by a large number of delegates. In fact, he thought that a House of Representatives should be composed of at least (390) delegates, no less than (30) for each of the (13) colonies. If Paine's ideas had been instituted, that would mean that today's (50) United States would be represented by no less than (1500) House members versus the paltry (435) we have today.

Paine likewise envisioned that every law that was passed would require a 3/5th majority. In today's Congress, that would mean (60) out of (100) Senators, and (261) out of (435) House members would need to vote in favor of every piece of legislation. NO law could be passed with a simple majority.

The rationale for Paine's thinking is obvious. A "large representation" reflects greater accuracy of sentiment among the electorate. A 3/5th majority vote reflects greater consensus on any proposed legislation. Paine, and many others of his day, were concerned with the possible concentration of power in the hands of a few. They were likewise concerned that laws might be enacted without "the consent of the governed".

When the First Congress was inaugurated in 1789, there were Thirteen Colonies, (26) Senators, and (65) House members. The first U.S. census of 1790 recorded 4 million Americans. Today, America's population is over 308 million represented by only (100) Senators and (435) House members. In other words, while the country's population has increased by a factor of 77, the number of Senators has increased by a factor of less than 4, and the number of House members has increased by a factor of less than 7.

I am sure that Thomas Paine would have argued that the First Congress was already inadequate to represent the electorate. Conditions have not improved since then. The situation which Paine and others feared, has come to pass. That is, that power is being concentrated into the hands of a few. The number of representatives per number of electorate is smaller than ever, and therefore "the danger is increased".

Paine goes on to describe an event in the colony of Pennsylvania where, "A set of instructions for their delegates were put together, which in point of sense and business would have dishonoured a school-boy, and after being approved by a few, a very few, ...were carried into the house, and there passed IN BEHALF OF THE WHOLE COLONY" (emphasis in original). That a few people in the legislature should use tactics that would "dishonor a school-boy" in order to effect their views over those of the majority was repulsive and offensive to Thomas Paine, as it should be to us.

The Democrats in Congress today are not only a small group of people who represent a large electorate, but they have become "unequal" as well. They control not only the House and the Senate, but the Presidency. While this may be legitimate under U.S. law, it is nonetheless "dangerous" as Thomas Paine would attest. An even smaller group of liberals within the ranks of those Democratic legislators appear poised to impose their views on the entire nation. Hence, "If the number of the representatives be not only small, but unequal, the danger is increased."

If Thomas Paine were alive today, he would no doubt decry the situation in which we find ourselves. He would argue that the people are not adequately represented. He would argue that power has been concentrated in the hands of a few. He would argue that this situation is "dangerous". He would argue the need for a 3/5th majority vote on each and every law. He would denounce the tactics being employed in the Congress. He would denounce "reconciliation" whereby a major piece of legislation affecting 1/6th of the U.S. economy can be passed with only a simple majority. And he would vehemently denounce the "Slaughter Solution", whereby the House can "deem" a bill to be passed without even voting on it.

What has America come to? Have we no COMMON SENSE? "There is no political matter which more deserves our attention."


At 3/17/2010 3:48 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Commonsense has been replaced with liberal "sense" (and I'm using the word "sense" here very loosely in connections with liberals).

As far as these liberal bleeding-heart tightwads are concerned, minorities are always right, majorities are always wrong and liberals are the only arbiters of political disagreements - they get the final word because they are never wrong.

In my view any person who would empower government to levy ever high levels of taxes in order to expand the entitlement gulag is a charlatan and scoundrel. That is, liberals invariably define their "compassion" by how much of other people's money they can spend advancing their twisted social utopia.

Liberals can always find excuses to put what should be private sector charity into the hands of government. "Government compassion" has always been the lynchpin of petty dictatorships and authoritarian regimes, and tyrannies because hasn't history demonstrated since the days of Karl Marx that virtually every socialist/communist/collectivist revolutionary has always promised a more "compassionate government" under their rule?

The U.S. Constitution doesn't promise "compassion", neither does it promise a better life. What it does promise is a limited government that would promote (not provide) a general welfare whereby constitutional laws enthusiastically embrace by The People would create an amenable environment whereby THE PRIVATE SECTOR and the States themselves would provide the necessary public services to form a more perfect union among the citizenry. Compassion starts at home and stays in the community, there is not such thing as government compassion though liberals like to pretend there is. What the government gives the government can take away. "Compassion" that is forced by law is no compassion at all, it's compulsion. The American founders had much to say about the American people being forced to submit to well-intentioned coercions that are little more than ideological despotisms.


At 3/17/2010 4:35 PM , Blogger Hawkeye® said...

Couldn't agree more!

(:D) Best regards...

At 3/18/2010 3:37 AM , Blogger camojack said...

"What has America come to? Have we no COMMON SENSE?"

Common sense is a misnomer, and as such it is the inspiration for the name of my blog. My father has another term for what is inaccurately called "common" sense; he calls it "elite" sense instead.

PS: I see that you have activated the "word" verification feature. Sometimes the "spambots" will still manage to post, though...

At 3/18/2010 8:13 AM , Blogger Hawkeye® said...

Yeah, I don't like that word verification thing, but those spammers were throwing junk on old articles left and right. I just got tired of constantly cleaning up after them.

(:D) Best regards...

At 3/19/2010 10:44 AM , Blogger Beerme said...

Thomas Paine's writings are incredibly pertinent today, aren't they?
I am so very sad for the state of our country! I am doubly sad that the Republican Party has assisted in the decline that we now see hastened, nay, gleefully hastened by the currently empowered Democrats. If it weren't for those who were willing-in the past- to engage in dangerous or corrupt practices for their own good (Deem and Pass, Reconciliation, etc.)there wouldn't be a mechanism for these oh-so-much-more-corrupt Democrats to use for their nefarious purposes! I am sickened by the fact that slimy statists can point to hundreds of instances where Republicans have used such tactics to pass legislation in the past. Oh, and I realize the magnitude of this legislation clearly dwarfs the importance and the level of damage of the other examples but the fact remains that they can honestly point to our side doing the same thing...arghh!
I yearn for our electorate to vote all of these bastards out of office and clean up the swamp, repopulating the government with citizen patriots who do the duties of the government in their part-time, while working regular jobs for the remaining (oh, ten months or so) of the year!
Am I ever going to witness this revolution?

At 3/19/2010 11:59 AM , Blogger Hawkeye® said...

I don't think we will ever see it our lifetime, but it doesn't hurt to keep trying, keep working, and keep praying.

(:D) Best regards...

At 3/19/2010 9:10 PM , Anonymous mindknumbed kid said...

What Hank said!!!

At 3/20/2010 12:22 PM , Blogger Hawkeye® said...

Yes, that was a good comment, wasn't it?

(:D) Best regards...

At 3/23/2010 6:55 AM , Anonymous Elroy said...

Wow! Hawkeye® uses godless radical leftie to argue for a tripling of the size of government! Now I’ve seen everything!

And if ‘the Democrats in Congress today are…a small group of people who represent a large electorate’ (the majority of the voting), is this not as it should be? Is this not representative democracy? At least, unlike Bushco, they were legitimately elected.

Funny, isn’t it? From 2001 – 2009, the US was governed by ‘a small group of people’ who represented a small electorate and who really did become ‘"unequal" as well.’

They ‘controlled not only the House and the Senate but the Presidency’ and their rule was illlegitimate under U.S. law, not to mention being infinitely more ‘dangerous’, as Thomas Paine would attest.

An even smaller group of neo-cons within the ranks of those Republican legislators imposed their views on the entire nation, hence, ‘If the number of the representatives be not only small, but unequal, the danger is increased’ – Paine was, indeed, correct, as he was about so many other things.

Here he is on Christianity:

‘The Christian religion is a parody on the worship of the sun, in which they put a man called Christ in the place of the sun, and pay him the adoration originally payed to the sun.’

‘All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.’

‘I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church.’

‘Mingling religion with politics may be disavowed and reprobated by every inhabitant of America.’

On property and class warfare:

‘When the rich plunder the poor of his rights, it becomes an example of the poor to plunder the rich of his property, for the rights of the one are as much property to him as wealth is property to the other and the little all is as dear as the much. It is only by setting out on just principles that men are trained to be just to each other; and it will always be found, that when the rich protect the rights of the poor, the poor will protect the property of the rich. But the guarantee, to be effectual, must be parliamentarily reciprocal.’

‘Men did not make the earth... It is the value of the improvements only, and not the earth itself, that is individual property... Every proprietor owes to the community a ground rent for the land which he holds.’

There. Even Lenin would be proud of that lot.

That you and your fellow travelers managed to sleep through, nay, celebrate the above-the-law rule of an unelected cabal as they committed acts you now deem unacceptable and treasonous is funny enough, but when you use the writings of a radical anti-establishment non-conformist to justify your distinctly pro-establishment conformist outlook and condemn a mildly centerist POTUS as a fascist/communist/whatev, well, the word ‘ironic’ seems hardly sufficient.

It’s all just as funny though, so keep it up – I look forward to your deification of Karl Marx as a champion of conservative thought as y’all seek to justify the unjustifiable.



At 3/23/2010 9:01 AM , Blogger Hawkeye® said...

I was quoting from COMMON SENSE. I have heard that Paine's other works bear little resemblance to it (almost as if written by a different person). I am not familiar with his other works, so I cannot argue either way.

However, what I can say is that: 1) 60% of Americans consider themselves to be "conservative" (last time I checked, that was a majority); 2) Obama et al. have had a hard time getting things passed not because of Republicans, but because of conservative Democrats; 3) polls consistently show that more than 50% of Americans are in favor of health care, but an equal amount are NOT in favor of this bill (again a majority).

And as for your snarky comments, give it a rest. Bush WAS elected as all the recounts proved.

At 3/23/2010 9:32 AM , Blogger Hawkeye® said...

As for Thomas Paine's views on religion, he says the following in COMMON SENSE...

"As to religion, I hold it to be the indispensable duty of government to protect all conscientious professors thereof, and I know of no other business which government hath to do therewith (emphasis added)."

"but Gideon in the piety of his soul replied, 'I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you THE LORD SHALL RULE OVER YOU (emphasis in the original). Words need not be more explicit; Gideon doth not decline the honour, but denieth their right to give it; neither doth he compliment them with invented declarations of his thanks, but in the positive style of a prophet charges them with disaffection to their proper Sovereign, the King of heaven (emphasis added)."

"But where, says some, is the King of America? I'll tell you. Friend, he reigns above, and doth not make havoc of mankind like the Royal Brute of Britain. Yet that we may not appear to be defective even in earthly honors, let a day be solemnly set apart for proclaiming the charter; let it be brought forth placed on the divine law, the word of God; let a crown be placed thereon, by which the world may know, that so far we approve of monarchy, that in America the law is king. For as in absolute governments the King is law, so in free countries the law ought to be King; and there ought to be no other. But lest any ill use should afterwards arise, let the crown at the conclusion of the ceremony, be demolished, and scattered among the people whose right it is (emphasis added)."

At 3/23/2010 9:46 AM , Blogger Hawkeye® said...

‘When the rich plunder the poor of his rights, it becomes an example of the poor to plunder the rich of his property, for the rights of the one are as much property to him as wealth is property to the other and the little all is as dear as the much. It is only by setting out on just principles that men are trained to be just to each other; and it will always be found, that when the rich protect the rights of the poor, the poor will protect the property of the rich. But the guarantee, to be effectual, must be parliamentarily reciprocal (emphasis added).’

So what happens then when the rich do protect the rights of the poor, but the poor (via the government) continue to "plunder the rich of his property"? I think Paine would argue that such is the case today, and that the situation is no longer "reciprocal". I think Paine would argue that the U.S. government has become "monarchial", nay "tyrannical", let alone arbitrary and capricious.

The balance has swung too far in one direction. It is time for the pendulum to make an about-face.

At 4/11/2010 10:55 AM , Blogger AmericanVet said...

Paine was a radical in his time and would be one now. However, his concept of representation was right on the mark. If we increased the number of Congressmen, made them all part-time with no pension benefits and required a 60 per cent majority on all votes then we would be far better off!

If I had my way, all Congressmen would be required to live in one big hotel (each one with a suite that would hold his family when with him) and not allow them to reside anywhere but in their home state while serving in public office. I would thereby reduce the scaliwag quotient considerably.

At 4/11/2010 11:19 AM , Blogger Hawkeye® said...

Good thoughts! And I like your term: "the scaliwag quotient".

(:D) Best regards...


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