Month: February 2011

More Situation Ethics

–By Ben Gilmore

“The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each state, chosen by the legislators thereof, for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.” [U.S. Constitution. Article I, Section 3. June 21, 1788]

“Situation ethics” — Making choices in an effort to manipulate the results. The XVII Amendment [April 9, 1913] changed the original wording to, ” … elected by the people thereof …”

What is wrong with that change? It is a legal change according to the rules of amendment. “We the people” are the ultimate authority over the U.S. Government. So why do I say that change was situation ethics and not principle ethics?

The root problem appeared to the voters to be a loss of votive power which the founders had placed in the hands of each state legislature. The amendment placed power in the hands of the majority of voters at large in the state. Did that give the voters more votive power? No, they voted away their control of the U.S. Senate!

The change was focused upon the perceived disconnect of the Senate members from “We the people”. That was only the symptom. The cause was ignorance of the principle of federalism (sovereignty of both state and national government).

Look at the details. In California, we have 40 State Senators and 80 State Assemblymen. That is 120 legislators, each elected (by the people) from separate districts in California. Originally, our two U.S. Senators were answerable to those 120 lawmakers. In turn, those California lawmakers were answerable to their respective voters back home. Our state’s interests were equally represented among the other states in the U.S. Senate.

After the 17th Amendment (1913), each U.S. Senator was answerable to all the voters in California! Who has more influence over a U.S. Senator – 1 of 120 state legislators, or 1 of millions of voters? Before the amendment, Senators had to win the confidence of the legislators. After the amendment, they had to win confidence of millions. That takes money, lots and lots of it. Who will the winners represent – the State, or the source of the funds?

Our founders created the House of Representatives to represent “We the people”. The larger states (population) had more Representatives. They created the U.S. Senate to represent the interests of their respective sovereign states.

Why was that important? If we eliminated the U.S. Senate and had only the House of Representatives, the few largest state delegations, (say New York, California, Illinois) would dominate the legislature in Washington, D.C. and Rhode Island, Nevada, and Delaware citizens would have no effective vote. The national government would grow ever bigger and the state governments and their regional interests would grow ever weaker.

Had the people learned the sound principles debated and understood by our founders, our state and national governments would be far healthier than they are today. Such principles are seldom understood by citizens today. Why is that?

I believe those opposed to our founding principles have found ways to “dumb down” our education system. They have applied the principle that, “mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves …” [Declaration of Independence -1776]

The solution — What is done is done! Until we learn again those founding principles, we are ill equipped to repair and restore our ship of state. Having mastered sound principles of American government, there are many areas you may apply them.

On the other hand – Ignorant activism is more dangerous than apathy! Take an ACH course , or one like it!

For His-story & Government!!!

Ben Gilmore
ACH Study Groups

[Contact Ben]

Situation Ethics

–By Ben Gilmore

“When you choose an action, you choose a consequence.” So said my friend, Harry Conn. Consequences follow choices like a caboose follows a train. You cannot manipulate consequences. It is like pushing on a rope!

When you tell a lie, you are trying to manipulate consequences. It may even seem to work for a while – but – the consequences are always bad!

Some folks say, “There are no absolutes.” Of that, they are absolutely sure! They can’t live consistently with their beliefs.

A friend from the south east journeyed to California twenty years ago to attend an American History and Government Study Seminar,” hosted by ACH Study Groups. He returned home and became a state and local political researcher and leader.

He phoned the other day to discuss how to apply sound principle rather than situation ethics as he advises influential state leaders. Our discussion prompted this column.

If you make choices focusing upon the results, you are pushing on a rope!

What is your alternative? Evaluate choices upon sound principles and let the results take care of themselves! That is called “principle ethics.”

For example: Some years back voters got tired of lawmakers, governors, judges, and even presidents making careers out of politics. By granting favors, and using name recognition and campaign funds, not available to challengers, they kept getting reelected. The voters began imposing “term limits.”

The root problem: Folks were “selling” their vote for favors, ignorantly voting for a recognized name, or believing phony political ads. In short – “voting dumb!” After “term limits,” apparently folks are still voting dumb!

Sure, we dump bad politicians. Granted: We also dump the good ones. Voting dumb just exchanges one bad guy for another! Term limits is “situation ethics.” What we are really doing, is violating the individual liberty of a future voter, to make his own mistakes! When you take away the opportunity to fail, success has no value!

Then there are “unintended consequences.” Since there are no longer any experienced lawmakers (They were all termed out!), the hired hands around the seat of power, have all the experience. More often than not, the elected lawmaker becomes a “figurehead,” useful for speeches and fund raising, while the staff runs the show and makes the decisions.

If the root problem is dumb voters, the solution is to raise the voters’ understanding. A tough job, but a real solution. Let’s, each of us, get on with the task!

Bottom line: If you have not learned to apply a sound set of principles, you are stuck with situational choices. You may luck out, now and then, and make a good choice, but —

Rather: Stop. Learn a set of sound principles and how to apply them. Life will become a lot simpler when you don’t have to worry about negative results.

For His-story & Government!!!

Ben Gilmore
ACH Study Groups

[Contact Ben]

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