Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Sun—not CO2—Determines Our Climate

                                 Sunspots and Solar Cycles

Figure 1

The above chart clearly shows a weakening trend of sunspots in solar cycles 22, 23 and 24. These are the latest in a sequence dating from 1755, when extensive recording of solar sunspot activity began. Note that the peak of solar cycle 24, which occurred in 2014, is only about half that of solar cycle 22, which peaked about 1989. This portends global cooling—not global warming. Sunspots are dwindling to lows not seen in 200 years. In 2008, during the solar minimum of cycle 23, there were 266 days with no sunspots. This is considered a very deep solar minimum. You can check out pictures of sunspots—or their absence—day after day for recent years at Here is a recent picture of the sun with a single sunspot region as the sun marches toward a cyclical low expected in 2019 or 2020. 

Figure 2

Sunspots have been observed for millennia, first in China and with a telescope for the first time by Galileo in 1610. We now have a 400-year record of sunspot cycle observations, from which we can see a cycle length of about 11 years. Combining this fact with the discovery of a strong correlation between solar activity and radioactive carbon 14 in tree rings, it has been possible to backdate sunspot cycles from the sun's magnetic cycles for a thousand years, back to the Oort Minimum in the year 1010.

Sunspots occur when magnetic fields rip through the sun's surface, producing holes in the sun's corona, solar flares, coronal mass ejections, and changes in the solar wind, the stream of charged particles emanating from the sun. The solar wind, by modulating the galactic cosmic rays which reach the earth, determines both the formation of clouds and
the carbon dioxide level in the earth's atmosphere—which has nothing to do with emissions from factories or automobiles! This is why in the 15 years prior to 2013, when humans produced 461 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide—compared to only 302 billion tonnes in the preceding 15 years—there was no global warming; in fact, the earth actually cooled despite the massive increase in carbon dioxide emissions. The fear mongers claim a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide will produce catastrophic global warming. But Reid Bryson, founding chairman of the Department of Meteorology at the University of Wisconsin, has stated, “You can go outside and spit and have the same effect as a doubling of carbon dioxide.”

After about 210 years, sunspot cycles “crash” or almost entirely die out, and the earth can cool dramatically. These unusually cold periods last several decades. Of greatest concern to us is the Maunder Minimum, which ran from 1645 to 1715. Figure 3 shows the paucity of sunspots during this time. Some years had no sunspots at all. The astronomer Sporer reported only 50 sunspots during a 30-year period, compared to 40,000 to 50,000 typical for that length of time.

Figure 3

Since the Maunder Minimum, a less extreme but still significantly below-average period of cooler temperatures occurred during the Dalton Minimum (1790 to 1830), also shown on the graph.

At least as far back as 2007—before Cycle 23 had bottomed—a Russian solar physicist, predicted what we are seeing now. Professor Habibullo Abdussamatov, head of the Pulkovo Observatory in Russia, noting that solar irradiance had already begun to fall, said a slow decline in temperatures would begin as early as 2012-2015 and lead to a deep freeze in 2050-2060 that will last about fifty years. He said the warming we've been witnessing was caused by increased solar irradiance, not CO2 emissions:

It is no secret that increased solar irradiance warms Earth's oceans, which then triggers the emission of large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere (italics added.) So the common view that man's industrial activity is a deciding factor in global warming has emerged from a misinterpretation of cause and effect relations.

Further, debunking the very notion of a greenhouse effect, the renowned scientist said:

Ascribing 'greenhouse' effect properties to the Earth's atmosphere is not scientifically substantiated. Heated greenhouse gases, which become lighter as a result of expansion, ascend to the atmosphere only to give the absorbed heat away.

In a paper published in 2009, Abdussamatov wrote that there have been 18 Maunder-type minima of deep temperature drops in the last 7,500 years, “which without fail follow after natural warming.” And, correspondingly,

while in the periods of high sunspot maxima, there have been periods of global warming. Such changes in the climate of the Earth could be caused only by lasting and significant changes in the Sun, because there was absolutely no industrial effect on nature in those times.

We would expect the onset of the phase of deep minimum in the present 200-year cycle of cyclic activity of the Sun to occur at the beginning of solar cycle 27; i.e., tentatively in the year 2042 plus or minus 11 years, and potentially lasting 45-65 years.

Regarding analyses of ice cores in Greenland and Antarctica, Abdussamatov wrote:

It has been seen that substantial increases in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and global climate warming have occurred cyclically, even when there was as yet no industrial action on nature. It has also been established that periodic, very substantial increases in the carbon dioxide content in the atmosphere for a period of 420 thousand years never preceded warming, but, on the contrary, always followed an increase in the temperature with a delay of 200-800 years, i.e., they were its consequence (italics and boldface added.)

In an update in October 2013, Abdussamatov warned, “We are now on an unavoidable advance towards a deep temperature drop.”

Abdussamatov's conclusions about global cooling came from his studies of the sun, but another scientist came to a similar conclusion by studying ocean currents. This should not be surprising because, as NASA has stated, “uneven heating from the sun drives the air and ocean currents that produce the Earth's climate.” Don Easterbrook, a geology professor and climate scientist, correctly predicted back in 2000 that the earth was entering a cooling phase. He made his prediction by tracing a “consistently recurring pattern” of alternating warm and cool ocean cycles known as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO). He found this cycle recurring every 25 to 30 years for almost 500 years. Projecting this forward, he concluded “the PDO said we're due for a change,” and that happened.

Asked by CNSNews about the Intergovernment Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Easterbrook said they “ignored all the data I gave them...every time I say something about the projection of climate into the future based on real data, they come out with some [computer] modeled data that says this is just a temporary pause...I am absolutely dumfounded by the totally absurd and stupid things said every day by people who are purportedly scientists that make no sense whatsoever....These people are simply ignoring real-time data that has been substantiated and can be replicated and are simply making stuff up....What they're doing in the U.S. is using CO2 to impose all kinds of restrictions to push a socialist government.”

Is it true that the global-warming issue has become a front for a political ideology? Has it become a tool for increasing government control over our lives, not just in the U.S. but all over the globe? In 2010 a leading member of the United Nation's IPCC said, “One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy. This has almost nothing to do with environmental policy anymore.” Now it's not about saving the environment but about redistributing wealth, said Ottmar Edenhofer, a co-chair of the IPCC's Working Group III and a lead author of the IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report (2007). “We redistribute the world's wealth by climate policy.”

Edenhofer told a German news outlet (NZZ AM Sonntag ): “Basically, it's a big mistake to discuss climate policy separately from the major themes of globalization. The climate summit in Cancun at the end of the month is not a climate conference but one of the largest economic conferences since the Second World War.”

The Cancun agreement set up a “Green Climate Fund” to administer assistance to poor nations suffering from floods and drought due to global warming. The European Union, Japan and the United States have led pledges of $100 billion per year for poor nations up to 2020, plus $30 billion in immediate assistance.

The IPCC regularly submits its reports to its Expert Reviewers Panel. As you might expect, most of its appointments to this panel have been supporters of global warming. A few nonbelievers have been included to give the appearance of balance, but their comments and questions have been routinely ignored as the IPCC focuses on what it claims to be the “consensus” view.

Only one person has been been on every IPCC Expert Reviewers Panel, dating back to 1990. That man is Dr. Vincent Gray of New Zealand. He submitted a very large number of comments to IPCC drafts. Here are some of his comments from a letter he wrote on March 9, 2008:

Over the period I have made an intensive study of the data and procedures used by IPCC contributors throughout their whole study range....Right from the beginning I have had difficulty with this procedure. Penetrating questions often ended without any answer. Comments on the IPCC drafts were rejected without explanation, and attempts to pursue the matter were frustrated indefinitely....

I have been forced to the conclusion that for significant parts of the work of the IPCC, the data collection and scientific methods employed are unsound. Resistance to all efforts to try and discuss or rectify these problems has convinced me that normal scientific procedures are not only rejected by the IPCC, but that this practice is endemic, and was part of the organization from the very beginning. I therefore consider that the IPCC is fundamentally corrupt. The only "reform" I could envisage, would be its abolition....

Yes, we have to face it. The whole process is a swindle. The IPCC from the beginning was given the license to use whatever methods would be necessary to provide "evidence" that carbon dioxide increases are harming the climate, even if this involves manipulation of dubious data and using peoples' opinions instead of science to "prove" their case.

The disappearance of the IPCC in disgrace is not only desirable but inevitable....Sooner or later all of us will come to realize that this organization, and the thinking behind it, is phony.  Unfortunately severe economic damage is likely to be done by its influence before that happens.

Patrick Moore, a co-founder and director of Greenpeace, resigned because of its “trend toward abandoning scientific objectivity in favor of political agendas.” After the failure of communism, he says, there was little public support for collectivist ideology. In his view a “reason environmental extremism emerged was because world communism failed, the [Berlin] wall came down, and a lot of peaceniks and political activists moved into the environmental movement bringing their neo-Marxism with them and learned to use green language in a very clever way to cloak agendas that actually have more to do with anti-capitalism and anti-globalism than they do anything with ecology or science.”

Vaclav Klaus, former president of the Czech Republic and a university professor before he became president, is the author of a book on global warming and has spoken often on the subject. He says , “What frustrates me is the feeling that everything has already been said and published, that all rational argument has been used, yet it does not help.”

It does not help because global warming alarmism is not based on rational argument. It is not based on science. It is not based on reality. It is based on political ideology. If rational argument doesn't fit, then phony arguments must be invented: the spread of malaria, the loss of biological diversity, oceans flooding, polar bears disappearing, Himalayan glaciers vanishing, etc. If global warming does not fit the observable temperature measurements, then a new “reality” must be invented to fit the ideology: actual temperature records must be altered or dismissed—hundreds of temperature-reporting stations in colder areas worldwide were eliminated from the global network so the average temperature is higher than when those stations were included link. Presto! Global warming. Ditto for carbon dioxide measurements: 90,000 CO
2 measurements in 175 research papers were dismissed because they showed higher CO2 levels than desired, and various other studies were selectively edited to eliminate "uncooperative" measurements while claiming the cherry-picked remaining ones showed global warming (link.) The global warming advocates are not disturbed by all this because, in their view, ideology trumps reality!

Klaus states (link link link): "We succeeded in getting rid of communism, but along with many others, we erroneously assumed that attempts to suppress freedom, and to centrally organize, mastermind, and control society and the economy, were matters of the past, an almost-forgotten relic. Unfortunately, those centralizing urges are still with us....

Environmentalism only pretends to deal with environmental protection. Behind their people and nature friendly terminology, the adherents of environmentalism make ambitious attempts to radically reorganize and change the world, human society, our behavior and our values....They don’t care about resources or poverty or pollution. They hate us, the humans. They consider us dangerous and sinful creatures who must be controlled by them. I used to live in a similar world called communism. And I know it led to the worst environmental damage the world has ever experienced....

“The followers of the environmentalist ideology, however, keep presenting us with various catastrophic scenarios with the intention of persuading us to implement their ideas. That is not only unfair but also extremely dangerous. Even more dangerous, in my view, is the quasi-scientific guise that their oft-refuted forecasts have taken on....Their recommendations would take us back to an era of statism and restricted freedom....The ideology will be different. Its essence will, nevertheless, be identical—the attractive, pathetic, at first sight noble idea that transcends the individual in the name of the common good, and the enormous self-confidence on the side of the proponents about their right to sacrifice the man and his freedom in order to make this idea reality.... We have to restart the discussion about the very nature of government and about the relationship between the individual and society....It is not about climatology. It is about freedom.”

Much of the foregoing is an abridgment of my earlier article, “Its the Sun, Stupid.. Some of the other articles I have written on global warming can be found here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Thanksgiving: Obama Failed to Learn the Pilgrims' Lesson

President Obama has failed to learn the simple basic lesson that the Pilgrims, who established the tradition of Thanksgiving Day in 1623 (not 1621, as often claimed), learned the hard way. The bounteous harvest they were gratefully celebrating on that day was preceded by years of starvation. They arrived in mid-December 1620, and half of them died the first year. Though the Indians helped them survive, the colonists were chronically short of food, and their numbers continued to dwindle.

Under the Mayflower Compact, which governed the colony, “all profits and benefits that are got by trade, working, fishing or any other means” were community property in the “common stock” of the colony. And “all such persons as are of this colony are to have their meat, drink, apparel and all provisions out of this common stock.” People were required to put in everything they could—they were forbidden from growing their own food—and to take out only what they needed. It was a policy of “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need,” centuries before Karl Marx seduced millions of people with those words.

The communal system was such a failure that in the spring of 1623 the Pilgrims feared they would not survive another poor harvest. “So they began to think,” wrote the colony's governor William Bradford, “how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop than they had done, that they might not still thus languish in misery. At length, after much debate of things, the Governor (with the advice of the chiefest among them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves....And so assigned to every family a parcel of land.....This had very good success; for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted then otherwise would have been by any other means the Governor or any other could use, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better content.”

Far from making the people “happy and flourishing,” the communal system, wrote Bradford, “was found to breed confusion and discontent, and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort.” Not surprisingly,“young men that were able and fit did repine [complain] that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men's wives and children, without recompense. The strong, or men of parts, had no more division of food, clothes, etc. than he that was weak and not able to do a quarter the other could; this was thought injustice. The aged and graver men to be ranked and equalized in labor, and food, clothes, etc. with the meaner and younger sort, thought it some indignity and disrespect unto them.”

Under the circumstances, there was little incentive to produce food. Severe whippings were tried to induce greater production, but they did little more than increase discontent.

The social disharmony, along with the food shortages, disappeared once the concept of private property was introduced and people could keep whatever they produced, or trade it away as they saw fit. In 1647 Bradford was able to write “any general want or famine hath not been amongst them since to this day.” Such was the success of the new system that in 1624 the colonists began to export corn, trading it for beaver pelts, other furs, and meat.

In 1624 the Pilgrims took a further step in property rights. The system of assigning land “to every man for his own particular” had certainly increased the production of corn, but the assignment was drawn by lot yearly. Thus there was not much incentive for making improvements to one's tillage when someone else might draw that land next year. The men requested of the Governor “to have some portion of the land given them for continuance, and not by yearly lot....Which being well considered, their request was granted.”

Jamestown, the first permanent English colony in America, established in Virginia in 1607, had an experience similar to the Pilgrims at Plymouth. Early years of starvation were followed by converting to a system of property rights and a free market, which brought abundance. Under collectivism, less than half of every shipload of settlers survived the first twelve months at Jamestown. Most of the work was done by only one-fifth of the men, to whom the socialist system gave the same rations as to the others. During the winter 1609-10, called “The Starving Time,” the population fell from 500 to 60.

But when Jamestown converted to a free market, there was “plenty of food, which every man by his own industry may easily and doth procure,” wrote the colony secretary Ralph Hamor in 1614. Under the previous system, he said, “we reaped not so much corn from the labors of thirty men as three men have done for themselves now.”

We should not underestimate the significance of the experiences at Plymouth and Jamestown. Property rights and free markets were truly revolutionary and fundamental to capitalism. Without them, all the wealth, progress and human betterment that followed could not have occurred. According to Sartell Prentice, “In England, meanwhile, farming 'in common' continued to be the general practice for another hundred years. Not until the second decade of the seventeen hundreds did 'setting crops for their particular' begin to be slowly accepted in England—and decades were to pass before the new practice became sufficiently widespread to provide an adequate food supply for the population.”

Even today, centuries later, there is still inadequate understanding of the importance of property rights and free markets. A recent BBC poll of 29,000 people worldwide found only 11 percent think free-market capitalism is a good thing. One-quarter of those polled said capitalism is “fatally flawed.”

There is no shortage of people who want a political system that gives them the fruits of other men's labors, as at Plymouth and Jamestown. And there is an abundance of politicians willing to accommodate them at the expense of other men's property. The result is repetition of the collectivist systems (socialism, fascism) that have failed in the past, and no end to the discontent and resentment they engender. But people can be seduced to try them again and again by lofty idealistic statements, eloquent messages of hope, and promises that can never be kept. All of which allow the covetousness of other people's property—whether for personal gain or altruistic, collectivist aims—to masquerade under noble-sounding phrases.

When Barrack Obama was campaigning for the presidency, he promised to redistribute other people's wealth for the collective good. In a short but spirited dialog with a small businessman, “Joe the plumber,” Obama argued that society would be better off if Joe's taxes were increased and the money distributed more widely to those less well off. What is this but a denial of Joe's property right to his own money and a repetition of the socialist distribution schemes that were so disastrous at Plymouth and Jamestown?

Once he was president, Obama came up with a health plan that would require everyone to buy health insurance—as though people's money was not theirs by right but, rather, was part of the “common stock” of community property, to be allocated by the leader for the collective good! And, just as at Plymouth, people who did not cooperate would be punished—not by severe whippings as was done there, but by the more civilized penalty of seizing their property (money) through fines if they refused to buy health insurance.

Contrast the government inflicting pain and penalty to force compliance compared to the benefit and satisfaction—even happiness—from market transactions, which people undertake without force or penalty in order to enhance their lives and are far more effective than socialistic distributions. Obama said, "We are fundamentally transforming the United States of America." He was indeed, wiping out the fundamental principles that allowed America to prosper.

Obama claimed, "This is our moment, this is our time to turn the page on the policies of the past, to offer a new direction." Yes, he was “turning the page on the policies” of property rights and free markets. But the direction he was offering was not new but old. It is the ancient system of four centuries ago, before property rights, those basic rights which are still denied in varying degrees in many countries that have never discovered free-market capitalism, much less embraced it—and whose standard of living reflects that fact. And those countries comprise a large share of the 89 percent of the world's people who do not think capitalism is a good thing—but who look with envy on America's success and demand we redistribute a share of our wealth to them.

"Generations from now,” Obama said, “we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was our time." Yes, and they will be the worse for it—and damn you for it!
(The above appeared on this blog on Thanksgiving in 2012 and 2010.  Its lesson is as appropriate now as ever.)

Monday, October 31, 2016

Balancing the Budget Is Not Enough

For decades the American people have sought a solution to the alarming rise in federal spending. At last they seem on the verge of getting a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution via its Article V. Congress would never approve a limit on federal spending, but Article V allows the states to impose this on Congress.

For this to occur, Article V requires two-thirds of the states (34 states) to pass a resolution for a convention for amending the constitution. Twenty-eight states have already done so, and an additional six are likely to join in 2017. Any amendment approved by the convention will then have to be approved by three-fourths of the states.

If a balanced budget amendment—which I favor—becomes a reality, it will be a tremendous achievement, but it will not solve all our problems with federal spending. This is because (1) the government is “cooking the books” on federal spending, (2) the Federal Reserve is the engine of inflation for accommodating that spending, and (3) there is no limit to the amount of money the Fed can create since it is not backed by gold. Let's take these topics in order.
Cooking the books

Congress plays games with the budget in so many ways it is hardly a stretch to say that if it was held to the same accounting standards as public corporations the entire Congress would be in jail for fraud,” says Paul Gutterman, director of the Masters of Business Taxation Program at the University of Minnesota. Here are some examples from my book, The Impending Monetary Revolution, the Dollar and Gold:

An official projection of a taxpayer gain of $14 billion at the Export-Import Bank is actually a $2 billion loss.

The $63 billion officially expected from FHA's single family mortgage guarantee program is in reality a $30 billion loss.

The Congressional Budget Office says the four largest student loan programs will yield a saving of $135 billion in fiscal years 2015-2024. But it notes that under fair value accounting that is practiced in the real world, those programs would likely cost $88 billion rather than save $135 billion.

David Stockman, a former director of the Office of Management and Budget, recently wrote:

Hundreds of billions are being added to the public debt each year which are being erased from the official deficit number due to the peculiarities of government accounting. For example: during the last two years nearly $200 billion was borrowed by Uncle Sam to fund student loans, but that didn't count in the official deficit because these outlays are considered "investments", not “spending.”

Stockman also wrote:

The combined official deficit for FY 2015 and 2016 was $1.025 trillion. But the public debt rose by $1.7 trillion during that period, meaning that upwards of $700 billion of red ink didn't get counted in the deficit. [emphasis in the original.]

Professor Gutterman says “Congress is cooking the books to minimize our long-term budget difficulties. The bottom line is that no matter how bad you think the budget deficit is, it is actually far worse.”

What happens if Congress does not balance the budget? There are two possibilities. First, the government might just shut down as happened in the past when Congress couldn't agree on raising the national debt ceiling. That is exactly what happened in the last (partial) shutdown when the Republicans refused to raise the debt ceiling—until they finally caved in to prevent further loss of public support. We need a constitutional amendment that prevents one party from demanding the other cut federal spending from its favored programs in order to avoid cutting its own favored programs to reach a balanced budget.

Second, even if the government passes a proposed balanced budget, it may turn out that by the end of the fiscal year—due to government's phony accounting—the budget is not balanced after all. We need a constitutional amendment to cover both of these possibilities.

Warren Buffet has voiced an interesting solution. He said to pass a law saying if there is “a deficit of more than 3% of GDP, all sitting members of Congress are ineligible for reelection.” Of course, this was immediately dismissed as unrealistic because Congress would never pass a law to limit its power to spend, nor would it propose a constitutional amendment to do so. However, an Article V convention leaves Congress no role in proposed amendments, so Buffet's basic idea would be workable and should be considered. My objection to it is the trigger of “a deficit of more than 3% of GDP,” because I wouldn't trust the government which has exhibited such notoriously phony calculations to make an honest calculation of something as complicated as GDP. My preference would be for a simple balancing of outlays with receipts. Therefore, I propose modifying Buffett's proposal to read: If the government shuts down from failure to pass a balanced budget, or in any fiscal year in which the budget outlays of the federal government exceed its receipts, for which no correction is made within 60 days, all sitting members of Congress are ineligible for reelection. And any shortfall from the current year must be made up the following year or all sitting members shall again be ineligible for reelection. I like the idea that Buffet's proposal would eliminate one party trying to gain political favor by blaming the other for failure to make necessary budget cuts since sitting members of both parties would be made ineligible for reelection.

My book includes an alternative amendment proposed by George Price:

Section 1. Within two months after the close of any fiscal year in which the federal Government has borrowed more money than it has repaid, one 10th of the full membership of the House of Representatives and one 10th of the full membership of the Senate shall be chosen by lot and expelled from office. The vacated offices shall be expeditiously filled by election or appointment, in the manner prescribed elsewhere in this Constitution.

Section 2. Those expelled shall not be elected or appointed to any office, or otherwise employed, in any branch of the federal Government for a period of three years for expelled Representatives and seven years for expelled Senators.

Observe that the destructive tendency of using government spending to “buy” elections will now be reversed. Profligate spending to win elections will now be replaced by frugality to avoid being thrown out of office. Moreover, having experienced the destruction of the dollar from excessive spending, the voters may well place more value on thrift than of the illusory promises of spending by political candidates.

This amendment proposal might seem drastic and perhaps unfair. You might think it would be better to confine the expulsion of office to the tenth of the office holders who voted for the most spending. However, this would be less effective than having them drawn by lot. For one thing, it would mean that the bottom nine-tenths of senators and representatives would feel they were safe to spend even more so long as they did not reach the top ten percent level; total spending could actually increase. For another, having the expulsion drawn by lot would mean no member of those legislative bodies would be safe from the process. Those enjoying the best reputations or having won their elections by the biggest margins would still be vulnerable. Facing their own possibility of losing office—even if they were far from the top tenth in advocating spending—they would likely put pressure on their extravagant colleagues to be more frugal by denying them party endorsement and campaign funds if they advocated too much spending.

Price writes, “On the very rare occasions when a deficit is actually justified, the expelled legislators should consider their sacrifice a patriotic duty.” He adds, “Once in operation, if it proved to be not strong enough, we could make it two 10ths.”

The Federal Reserve, Engine of Inflation

Congress prepares a budget which the president then approves, and the Fed accommodates the government financing needs by manipulating credit in the banking system.

Most people, even those who believe in free markets and gold-backed money, think a central bank is essential in the modern world to control the money supply and manage the economy in various ways. But Paul Volcker, a former chairman of the Federal Reserve, has stated:
With a few exceptions...central banking is almost entirely a phenomenon of the twentieth century. And there were market economies long before the twentieth century. Indeed, to some extent, central banks were looked upon and created as a means of financing the government, which I do not think people have in mind when they think about central banking today....If you say a central bank is essential to a market economy, I have to ask you about Hong Kong, which has no central bank at all in the absolute epitome of a free market economy. Yet it does quite well in terms of economic growth and stability. [emphasis added]

Richard Salsman, a former banker and author of a book on central banking, writes:

Central banks are bankers to unlimited governments, governments that spend more than they have been willing or able to levy in taxes on the populace.... Constitutionally limited and creditworthy governments do not need central banks. They are able to finance their operations in a free market with ready access to the private credit system. [emphasis added]

In my book, The Impending Monetary Revolution, the Dollar and Gold, I have further discussion on central banking and quotes from several other books by experts that have similar messages. But you get the message: central banks are tools for unlimited governments; if you don't want unlimited government, then you don't need or want a central bank.

Kevin Hassett, a former senior economist at the Federal Reserve, recently wrote:

If you look at the activities that the Federal Reserve engages in these days and compare them with the things it has the authority to do, the difference is mind-boggling. For example, the Fed currently does not rely on congressional approval for its funding. Instead, it holds a large portfolio of bonds and funds itself from the interest they earn, returning the residual to the U.S. treasury.

But the Fed acquires the bonds with a kind of sleight-of-hand. It approaches a bank that has a reserve account at the Fed and purchases, say, a million dollars of bonds. It then pays for the bonds simply by crediting the bank's reserve account with a million dollars. Nobody has to print any money for this. The Fed simply turns the knob on a reserve account in exchange for a financial asset. The Fed's use of this device has expanded greatly in recent years ...The Fed could, in theory, add to its funding in this way indefinitely.

[The Fed] was originally was supposed to cover its own costs by fees from the banks it regulates, but the functions and “costs” have escalated enormously in the years since. Back in the day, it was never envisioned that the Federal Reserve might accrue a large balance sheet, because the U.S. was on the gold standard when the Fed was created. With money and gold connected, spinning knobs to acquire bonds was simply not an option.[emphasis added]...As with many activities, the Fed simply started doing novel things that Congress never authorized it to do, and since nobody objected, it kept doing them...The fed is an institution that has broken free of its mooring. Its structure is unconstitutional.... It has expanded its role in the economy immensely, often without any legal authority to do so.”
Hassett also notes that “parts of the Federal Reserve's design that are established by legislation have questionable legality”; that the supposed “political independence” of the Fed is “an empty concept”; and that the Dodd-Frank regulatory reforms “gave the Federal Reserve an extraordinary amount of discretion to craft new banking regulations.”
First of all, notice in Hassett's first paragraph above that the Fed funds itself; it is not dependent on Congress for funding. This means it will be unaffected by a balanced budget amendment; the budget pertains to Congressional appropriations. Second, the one thing that formerly limited the Fed's ability to create money in the banking system by buying bonds was connection between money and goldand that the Fed could “add to its funding in this way [by buying bonds with only credit entries] indefinitely.”
We need a constitutional amendment to end the Federal Reserve.
The Gold Standard

The gold standard and free banking flourished in the the 19th century, particularly the latter part, and up to 1914, when World War I broke out and the Federal Reserve system began. Before that war every country had its own unit of account, such as the pound in England, the dollar in the United States, and the franc in France. Since these and other currencies throughout the world were defined as specific weights of gold, they were all interchangeable at a fixed rate. Money under the classical gold standard was truly global. The world effectively used one kind of money, and that money was gold.

After the first World War broke out, Canada, New Zealand and other countries with free banking systems, adopted government controls of the money supply to help finance their war efforts. After the war, the League of Nations recommended that nations without a central bank get one.

During the gold-standard years, there was no U.S. central bank, no “monetary policy,” no legal tender laws, no federal deposit insurance, and no limit on the minting of coins by private banks. Yet it was a time of price stability and great economic advancement. Michael Bardo, an economics professor at Rutgers University, who is also associated with the National Bureau of Economic Research, has written:

The period from 1880 to 1914, known as the heyday of the gold standard, was a remarkable period in world economic history....In several respects, the economic performance in the United States and the United Kingdom was superior under the classical gold standard to that of the subsequent period of managed fiduciary media. In particular, both the price level and real economic activity were more stable in the pre-World War I gold standard period than in the subsequent six-and-one-half decades. [emphasis added].

Professor Lawrence H. White, a specialist in the theory and history of money, writes that, based on a large body of evidence, “the aggregated performance of an economy on a gold standard is likely to be better under free market banking than under central banking.”

Salzman writes that under free banking, “Sound lending practices were commonplace. There was no reckless hunt for marginally creditworthy borrowers. Free banks financed the most productive enterprises and rewarded the most prudent savers....Free banking systems fueled no reckless inflations, credit expansions, or panics.”

Kurt Schuler, an economist in the Office of International Affairs at the U.S. Treasury Department, says: “Free banking was widespread, much more common than people supposed, and generally worked quite well. The economic logic that underlies free banking is timeless, and the same forces that made free banking a stable and efficient system in the 19th century would equally well apply today.”

The great economist Ludwig von Mises wrote:

The gold standard was an international standard. It safeguarded the stability of foreign exchange rates. It was a corollary of free trade and the division of labor...The gold standard put a check on governmental plans for easy money. It was impossible to indulge in credit expansion and yet cling to the gold parity permanently fixed into law. Governments had to choose between the gold standard and their—in the long run disastrous—policy of credit expansion. The gold standard did not collapse. The governments destroyed it.

We need amendment(s) to restore the gold standard and free banking and eliminate our central bank, the Fed.
For more on the issues of this posting as well as other constitutional amendments we propose, see our book The Impending Monetary Revolution, the Dollar and Gold, Second Edition. Be sure to get the Second Edition because it contains six additional chapters not included in the previous edition. does not sell the Second Edition. It and the “other sellers” it lists—except for “amlibpub3,” which is us—sell only the first edition. Buy direct from the publisher, American Liberty Publishers (, and get your book autographed. No shipping charge in U.S.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Fresh Look at the Electoral College

There is growing recognition that the problems with the federal government will never be solved by the politicians in Washington, who created them. They will never vote to reduce their power to spend, regulate the rest of us, and perpetuate themselves in office. The national debt is now $19 trillion—and growing—and 80,000 pages of new federal regulations per year destroy our liberty and make our economy less efficient, rendering us poorer than we otherwise would be. The politicians use public spending for “good” purposes to “buy” voter support that perpetuates themselves in office. As a result, people are showing increasing interest in amending the Constitution through its Article V procedure by the states, which leaves the federal government out of the loop.

A convention of states to consider amendments to the Constitution will be called if two-thirds of the states so request. Any amendments passed by the convention must then be approved by three-fourths of the state legislatures. The most popular subjects for proposed amendments are a balanced budget and term limits for elected officials.

If an amendments convention is called, it is unlikely that amending the electoral college will be proposed, so why am I bringing this up here? Because change will come, one way or other, due to long-standing dissatisfaction with the electoral process. Over the last two centuries there have been over 700 Constitutional amendments proposed for the electoral college, far more than for any other subject. None has met the criteria for adoption, but more will undoubtedly be proposed. So it is likely that sooner or later an amendment on this subject will be passed.

In addition to the possibility of changing the electoral process by constitutional amendment, there is the possibility of simply circumventing it by a compact of the states under the Constitution's Compact Clause. There is a National Popular Vote Interstate Compact movement attempting this. Its scheme is to bypass the electoral college by states agreeing in advance to cast all their electoral votes for the most popular national candidate even if he doesn't win in their state. This agreement would go into effect only after enough states with the electoral votes needed to win an election (270) join the purported compact. Under this arrangement, the presidency could be determined by votes in as few as eleven states. As frightening as that sounds, it is even more frightening that 10 states and the District of Columbia with 165 electoral votes (61% of the necessary 270) have already signed up for this.

There are significant constitutional difficulties for the movement even if it gets to 270 since the Compact Clause states: “No State shall, without the Consent of Congress…enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State.” But exceptions have been made. Moreover, one should not place too much confidence in the Supreme Court's faithful adherence to the Constitution when the Court has decided Obamacare is constitutional and that the law authorizing Obamacare subsidies to “exchanges established by the states” also applies to federal exchanges contrary to the specific language and intent of Congress performing its constitutional role.

So we must be on our guard. Public opinion polls show that 70% of the public believes the electoral college should be eliminated and replaced by a national popular vote. No change should be made without first understanding why the electoral college was created, why the 12th Amendment, which destroyed it, has precipitated 2 centuries of dissatisfaction and 700 efforts to get rid of it, and why replacing it with a national popular vote would be foolish.

Here I must relate a little story. John Hospers was head of the philosophy department at the University of Southern California for twenty years. He was the author of nine books, the statement of principles of the Libertarian Party, and was that party's first nominee for president of the United States. He was the first person ever to teach Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism as part of a university philosophy course. John was a big fan of my book Makers and Takers and even offered an endorsement for the back cover and quotes for advertising that book. After that, we corresponded occasionally for many years until his death. At one point he wrote me that a student in one of his classes had asked, “Why don't we just abolish the electoral college and elect a president by national popular vote?” John told him, “Just you wait. I'm going to bring something tomorrow that will answer your question.”

The next day John brought his copy of my book Makers and Takers and stood up in front of the class and read aloud the entire six-and-a-half pages I had written on the electoral college. He delighted in telling me that the students were awestruck, simply amazed at the subtleties embodied in this exquisitely designed political instrument, some of which I don't think even the Founders were aware of.

Everyone knows that the Founders established three branches of government, the executive, legislative and judicial, and hoped that each would restrain the other two from exceeding their authority. But that is only part of the system of checks and balances they established.

In classical theory there were three types of government: monarchy, oligarchy (or aristocracy), and democracy. These were, respectively, rule by one, rule by a few, and rule by the many. The founders considered which of these types would be best suited to each of the three branches of government. There was, for example, some discussion whether the presidency should be held by a single individual or a committee. In the end the monarchical principle seemed best suited to the executive branch. The Supreme Court and the Senate were oligarchical in principle. Only one-half of one of the three branches of government—the House of Representatives—would be democratic.

That is all the democracy the Founders intended. Supreme Court justices were appointed—for life. The U.S. senators were chosen by the state legislatures. And the president was chosen by the electoral college. Albert Jay Nock once wrote, “One sometimes wonders how our revolutionary forefathers would take it if they could hear some flatulent political thimblerigger [i.e.swindler] charge them with having founded 'the great and glorious democracy of the West.'” What the Founders created was certainly not a democracy—which they detested and feared. When at the Constitutional Convention delegate James Wilson suggested choosing senators by popular vote, not a single delegate supported him.

The Founders created a mixed government drawn on the principles of the three classical types. With the separation and balance of the three branches of government, no one type would predominate. The result is best described not as any one of them but as a limited constitutional republic.

The Founders wanted the people to have a voice in government. The problem was how to give the individual a voice without submitting government to the collective power of raw numbers. It was highly desirable, as Madison expressed it, to structure government so that it would have a tendency to “break and control” the power of factions and guard against the “tyranny of the majority,” which is based upon the rule of numbers, not upon righteousness or excellence.

A mixed government was desirable,” wrote historian Clarence B. Carson, “because there were differing functions of government which could be best entrusted to one, to a few, or to many. But, if the functions were best performed in this way, the division should not be watered down by having all the branches chosen by the same electorate.” The electorate for the House was the people. For the Senate it was the states. But there was no convenient third electorate for the presidency. One had to be created: the electoral college.

The states' power to chose their U.S. senators was an an important check-and-balance feature of the Constitution. But that was eliminated by the 17th Amendment, which made the Senate democratic by requiring U.S. senators to be chosen by popular election in the states.

The 17th Amendment was a double tragedy for our Constitution. It not only eliminated the only link between the states and the federal government but destroyed the most important structural feature for protecting individual rights. Safeguarding individual rights was not one of the functions best performed by the many, the majority. It was best left to a few. The Senate was the logical few. Madison saw the Senate as a “necessary fence” against a majority “tempted to commit injustice on the minority.” Edmund Randolph, governor of Virginia and one of the more prominent men at the Constitutional convention, said, “The object of this second branch [the Senate] is to control the democratic branch of the National Legislature.” But after the 17th Amendment, the Senate became democratic too, unable to resist democratic pressures within itself, much less restrain those in the House.

Before, when senators were elected by the states rather than the people directly, senators could not be voted out by the majority if they upheld the rights of the individual. Nor could they perpetuate themselves in office by signing away some people's property or other rights in exchange for votes of the majority. Senators could be more concerned with doing what was right rather than what was popular. Political decisions would tend to be made by superior thought rather than superior numbers. “There is no maxim, in my opinion,” wrote Madison, “which is more liable to be misapplied, and which, therefore, more needs elucidation, than the current one, that the interest of the majority is the political standard of right and wrong.” After the 17th amendment, senators--just like members of the House—found it necessary to vote for more benefits to “buy” votes, or the public would vote for others who would. Thus began a spending trend which accelerated over the decades to where we now have a $19 trillion dollar debt.

If representation in the legislature were made proportional to population, the large states would obviously be dominant and might pass laws to their advantage at the expense of people in the smaller states. Of course, the larger states objected to equal representation, where all states would have the same number of representatives irrespective of population. The solution was to have two legislative bodies, one of each type, a House and a Senate. Each state would have two senators, but its number of representatives in the House would depend on its population. Any bills had to be passed by both legislative bodies in order to become law. So neither the large nor the small states could enact laws at the others' expense. Laws could be passed only if they were generally considered beneficial to both groups.

Members of the House were to be elected directly by the people. But this democratic feature was immediately balanced by the principle of indirect election in the Senate. Gouverneur Morris said, “The propensity of the first branch of the legislature to legislate too much [and] to run into projects of paper money and similar expedients” needed to be countered by the Senate. The popular was to be balanced by the wise; the voice of the masses was to be balanced by the wisdom of the few who were more knowledgeable than the general public and selected from them by the filtering process of indirect election.

The Founders were well aware that not everyone had the same knowledge or ability to make political decisions. If people elected from among themselves those who were ablest, they in turn would be more likely to make a wise elective decision than the populace as a whole. Indirect elections thus tended to upgrade political selection by what Madison referred to as a series of filtrations. “The effect,” he wrote, “is to refine and enlarge the public views by passing them through the medium of a chosen body of citizens, whose wisdom may best discern the true interest of their country.”

The electoral college was one of the most original and ingenious features of our Constitution. Today it is probably the least understood. The electoral college had all the advantages of indirect election just as the Senate did. Indeed, some of these seemed more pronounced by the fact the electors were selected for one task alone. They would have nothing to gain politically because after casting their ballots they would return to their private affairs. They could not vote benefits from the public treasury to ingratiate themselves with the voters and perpetuate themselves in office. It seemed, therefore, that they would be even less susceptible to corruption or political pressure and more likely than ever to exercise the wisdom and independent judgment for which they were selected.

Each state's representation in the electoral college was equal to its representation in Congress, that is, to the total of its House members plus its senators. In this way the exact numerical composition of the legislative branch—which was acceptable to both large and small states—was mirrored in the electoral college. But that numerical composition was acceptable for the legislative branch only because there were two legislative bodies, with power divided and balanced between them. How was such a division and balance of power to be achieved in the single body of the electoral collage? While power in Congress was divided between two houses, in the electoral college it was divided between two votes. The method of voting was the electoral college's most ingenious and least appreciated feature. Each elector was to vote for two men for president. The candidate receiving the most votes would be the president. The runner-up would be vice president.

An obvious advantage of the method was that it provided that the vice president would be the man regarded as the second most qualified to be president, rather than just someone chosen to balance the ticket geographically or for some other political reason. There were, however, subtler but even more important advantages to the system.

The requirement that each elector's votes be split between two candidates tended to “break and control” the power of factions. It cut the democratic power of numbers. It limited the political effects of the larger states numerical strength and prevented them from dominating presidential elections.

While it might be expected that electors would show some partiality to candidates from their own states, this factor would be offset by the requirement that each elector cast at least one vote for someone outside his state. At least half the votes were thus more likely to reflect merit rather than state politics or factions. The voting was deliberately structured to minimize the influence of local political ties or indebtedness and maximize the independent reasoning of the electors. Since electors could be expected to some extent to vote for leading figures from their own states—not only for political reasons but because they might know their qualifications better—such votes would in large measure cancel each other. Important and often decisive, then, would be those votes candidates would receive from outside their states, votes reflecting the impartial judgment of electors who had no political obligations and nothing to gain. The dominant power in electing the president would thus rest not with the states which had most to gain, by electing one of their own men, but with the votes from states which had the least to gain, just as with the electors themselves. (The exact opposite would be true if the president were popularly elected.) Consequently, with the original system there would be little tendency to choose a president on the basis of gaining benefits for some at others' expense.

In the election in 1800 two men had the same number of electoral votes. This happened because the electors did not vote for two men for the presidency. They expected Jefferson would be president and cast their second vote for their choice as vice president. In his book on the electoral college, Roger Lea McBride writes, “It is probable that few people outside his own circle wanted him [Aaron Burr] to be president—and if the electors had voted according to their own convictions, he would never have been a real contender for the job.” The electors didn't want him for president, but he was politically powerful in New York, the nation's largest state, and would balance the ticket by being from the North. (Jefferson was from Virginia.)

With Burr and Jefferson having the same number of electoral votes, the election was thrown into the House of Representatives, where the scoundrel Burr made a bold attempt to gain the presidency. He collaborated with opposition members in the House, persuading them to vote for him for president. After thirty-five ballots, the contest was still deadlocked. Finally Alexander Hamilton prevailed upon several members of his party to cast blank votes allowing Jefferson to be elected. And the 12th amendment to the Constitution, which provided separate ballots for president and vice president, ensued to prevent the situation from occurring again.

Hamilton's solution was a quick fix for the immediate problem of electing a president then, but the change required by the 12th Amendment has been so unsatisfactory that more than 700 amendments have been proposed for altering it.

The original electoral system of voting for two candidates had fascinating implications. It might well be that the elector would feel obligated to vote for the most popular candidate among the people he represented. He might even be pledged to do so. But he would have a second vote to cast. Having cast one vote for the popular choice, he might be more inclined to exercise his own judgment on the second. Both would count the same. In this event the electoral college would represent a balance between the numerical power of the people and the independent judgment of the electors, and the choice of the president would reflect some combination of the two.

No less intriguing would be the consequences if the elector reflected popular sentiment in his second vote as well. Suppose instead of exercising independent judgment he cast the second vote for the second most popular candidate in his state. Both votes would be equal. The majority would have no advantage—with obvious implications for minority rights. There would be little political incentive for making lavish campaign promises to gain votes of the majority at the expense of the minority if the minority were equally important politically.

With such a system it would be possible for a man to be elected president who did not carry a single state in popular vote. He could accumulate a winning total of electoral votes by finishing second in a great many states if several different candidates won in those states, each winning only a few. In this situation the man with all the second places finishes would indeed have the broadest political support across the country. Under today's system he wouldn't get a single electoral vote.

If a candidate could receive electoral votes for finishing second, the whole power structure of the two-party system wouldn't have developed in the way that it has. Where the winner takes all the votes under the present system, there can be only two significant parties, both contesting for the majority position. Only the majority on a state-wide basis has any representation in the electoral college. One party is the majority; the other hopes to become the majority and has the best chance of doing so. All its hopes and its influence rest on becoming the majority, because it has no representation as a minority. If, however, each elector cast two votes for the presidency, one representing whoever came in second, both the majority and the principal minority would be represented. There would be political value to being that minority, not just to being the majority. Second place would be worth fighting for, whereas only first place is today. As a result, third parties could effectively contest the second position for the same reason that only two can do so for the top spot in the present winner-take-all system.

Under the present two-party system the greater the dominance of one party in a state, the less important the other becomes, because the more remote is its chance of becoming the majority, which is the only way of winning electoral votes. Under a two-vote electoral system, where the runner-up would receive the second vote, the greater dominance of one party would make it more attractive for third parities to compete. In a state where, let's say, eighty percent of the people vote for one party, a third party would need to gain only little more than half of the remaining twenty percent to obtain electoral representation.

Under the present two-party system, the greater the dominance of one party, the less sensitive it is to the rights of individuals in the minority, because it becomes more difficult for the minority to protect themselves. Under a two-vote electoral system, with the second vote representing the runner-up, the minority represented by that vote would have the electoral power to balance the majority regardless of the size of the majority. For example, if the runner-up had only twenty percent of the popular vote in a state or district, compared to 80 percent for the majority candidate, the former would have the same power to balance the latter as if the vote totals were 49 to 51 percent or even 50-50. Thus the two-vote electoral system was another clever way of protecting the rights of individuals in the minority from the power and desires of the majority.

We shall never know whether or how the electoral college would have utilized these possibilities had the two-vote system been retained, but the potential was there. It was intrinsic to the mechanism.

The 12th Amendment altered the electoral college to provide for separate ballots for the president and vice president, with each elector casting one vote for each. Gone were all the advantages of the two-vote system. Overnight the large states doubled their power to advance their own candidates and amplified the power of the majority. Minorities which might have been represented by the second vote under the original system, no longer had any representation.

Without the requirement of splitting votes between two presidential candidates, block voting for a single candidate became the practice. By casting its votes as a block, a state could increase its electoral power relative to those states that still divided their votes among two or more candidates. To maintain its share of influence, every state soon found it necessary to cast all its votes as a block. The system which originally mitigated the power of superior numbers was turned into one which exemplified them.

While the new system limited electors to a single choice on their ballots, the block-voting practice dictated that it would be the popular choice. Although the electors might have voted individually on the basis of their own minds, there was no way they could do so collectively. Voting collectively, as a block, inevitably meant voting on a physical rather than an intellectual basis, voting on the basis of herd power rather than reasoning. The electoral system, which was originally designed to reflect superior judgment, became a mechanical system where that judgment could not be exercised.

After the Jefferson-Burr crisis, a change was clearly needed, but it did not have be one that amplified the power of the majority and destroyed the advantages of the original system. All that was necessary was to have separate ballots for president and vice president but to allow each elector two votes for each, one of each being for someone outside his state. Now, however, we need more than that because of the 17th Amendment (popular election of senators) and the emergence of block voting.

The Senate is no longer a bulwark for the protection of individual rights, as the Founders intended. Ideally, we should repeal the 17th Amendment, but there is no chance of that happening. The best we can hope for is to change the 12th Amendment to reflect the Founders' intent to elect a president through the filtering effect of indirect election and incorporating reasoned judgment—not merely numerical superiority—which would help to protect individual rights from the “tyranny of the majority.”

We need to return to the idea of the electors exercising their independent judgment, as the Founders intended. To the Founders, the word “ballot” meant secret ballot. That would allow the electors to exercise their discretion, free from any attempt to control their vote. Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have laws purporting to bind electors to the state's popular vote. Some even prescribe fines or criminal penalties for violation. Others demand resignation of the elector and cancellation of the ballot. Appellate and constitutional lawyers Rivkin and Grossman write that though these laws have never been enforced, “nonetheless, their very existence misleads the public and, even worse, chills electors from discharging their duty to exercise judgment. The time is ripe to put an end to this legal charade and establish, as federal-court precedent, that the Constitution forbids enforcement of elector-binding mandates.”

State courts have held that elector pledges cannot impose a legal obligation. For example, the Supreme Court of Ohio in 1948 concluded that when a state attempts to “dictate to the electors the choice which they must make for president and vice president, it has invaded the field set apart to the electors by the Constitution of the United States, and such action cannot stand.”

What we need, therefore, is a constitutional amendment providing each elector cast two secret ballots: one ballot with two names for president, and one ballot with two names for vice president. Each of these ballots shall have at least one name from outside the elector's home state. No state shall mandate for whom an elector's votes shall be cast.

Restoring the independent judgment of electors could be important in another respect. What if the winner of the popular vote dies or is incapacitated during the weeks between his election and the voting of the Electoral college? Or what about corruption, delays or trouble with state ballots? What if a candidate is revealed to have, say, Parkinson's disease or other progressive disease that has been kept from the public but make it unlikely that person would have full capabilities—or even survive—for a full term as president? Should electors still be pledged to vote for that person? Federal law provides no guidance on how to respond, but the Founders intended that electors would exercise appropriate judgment if such contingencies should arise.
election of our third president.
the great danger for democracy, according to Tocqueville, is the rise of “democratic despotism,” e great danger for democracy, according to Tocqueville, is the rise of “democratic despotism,” he great danger for democracy, according to Tocqueville, is the rise of “democratic despotism,” There is no maxim, in my opinion, which is more liable to be misapplied, and which, t

ore needs elucidation, than the current one, that the interest of the majority is the political standard of right and wrong.”--James Madison There is no maxim, in my opinion, which is more liable to be misapplied, and which, therefore, more needs elucidation, than the current one, that the interest of the majority is the political standard of right and wrong.”--James Madison