The first time I read The Constitution of the United States it struck me as odd how much of the document is a direct reaction to colonial monarchical rule. Specific policies the writers of the document had to endure while still colonists under the English crown are markedly represented, such as the quartering of troops. The historical context in which the document was devised makes it easy enough to understand why those men put those things in their document.
However, it seemed to me then as it seems to me now, that’s not only a charmingly inefficient rationale for the modern United States. Having obsolete concepts and practices forming a significant portion of the backbone of a modern tool of government demonstrates something has never happened. At no time was a government drawn up for the sake of drawing up a good government. This particular one was drawn up to ensure a specific mode of government not be employed ever again. While this is good on its own merits, not having a monarch break out in the middle of a democracy, it would seem a government created for the sake of creating a good and wholesome means to organize a population would by its existence also stand to prevent certain things mentioned in The Constitution of the United States from ever transpiring, such as the quartering of troops.
For those who are not intellectually dishonest, or unduly paranoid, it’s easy to understand the so-called right to bear arms found in Amendment II of The Constitution was drawn-up to ensure the country could muster an army sufficient to meet any demands (of that era) given that there would be no standing army - the citizen’s militia. Over time the National Guard came into being serving that specific function of a citizen’s army, even providing weapons and uniforms, removing the necessity of the citizen to maintain those items. Thus the creation of the National Guard, and the standing military services has made Amendment II obsolete - demonstrating how dragging 18th Century reasoning into the 21st Century can create false issues around which unscrupulous people may develop resistance to the evolution of this government the progression of history requires.
Quite simply no nation has at this point in time sat down and taken what knowledge gained through experience, study, research and investigation and attempted to apply these treasures of the passage of time on an evolutionary scale to the task of devising a government which is a well-devised, well-engineered tool for a citizenry to organize itself. Rather, bogging down by irrelevant tradition and the cluttering with un-pruned pilings-on of centuries of legislation demonstrates how the process of governance may be hampered with unreasoned delay and irrational restrictions, thus making what should be an efficient and effortless process into one that all too often declares an impotency in the face of known situations and conditions despite the fact that resolution and remedy have obviated themselves. It is inexcusable for an advanced civilization to founder in the face of modern exigencies using past practices as a rationale or justification.
It is unrealistic to believe such massive entities which are the modern governmental structures of modern Western Civilization can be scrapped, the processes suspended while a new organizational method is devised. Those resistant to change as they have promulgated methods to profit from existing inefficiencies and confusion will assuredly claim any attempt to alter present conditions would be just that, suspending government while somebody tries to dream up another one. However, could such a thing be engineered using a modular approach? Could each area of concern be identified, and its accompanying governmental structure be engineered then upon completion plugged in upon the removal of the old, or previous method? In this fashion there would be no pending absolute revolution completely overturning an existing order. There would be ample intercourse with time to disseminate the issues and points of concern to the citizenry, so by the time the new module is ready to be implemented everyone would be well-informed well in advance to remove any shock factor, or even shock factor opportunists may seek to employ for their own selfish means.
At first glance this may seem a radical, and even frightening prospect to engineer a more modern method to organize large populations. Such evolutionary steps as replacing the horse with the automobile, or the widespread introduction of electricity and its accompanying public utility structures had to be accomplished regardless of the size and demands of the task. Look at the difficulties in implementing the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), a process which brought with it prosperity to the perennially poverty-stricken, but was bitterly resisted because of how radical a change for day to day life was involved. However, one must at some point grapple with the idea of trying to drag an obsolete form of government forward in time so long as to eventually make government completely irrelevant and ineffectual at last requiring a major overhaul which in the end would not come as the shock factor would be too great for the human imagination.
In fact we have two examples, along with a situation, which demonstrate how foolhardy it was to ignore this condition of human invention. The first example is facing a shortage of freshwater, with 2/3s of the planet’s surface covered in water, largely because the known technology of desalinization is said to be “too expensive” to pursue. The second example is the inability to use the fusion method for extracting power from the atom because all mankind’s research and development went into using fission to create catastrophic explosions. Now, fusion is “too expensive” to pursue, and mankind is trying to resign itself to the obvious evils of petro-chemicals contending availing itself of this far more efficient and less intrusive method to generate power is something we allowed to get away from us. The absurdity of such notions being apparent, succumbing to them as inevitabilities is outrageous. The situation, of course, is infrastructure decay across the board and the astronomical price tag its maintenance and replacement demands. Even this universally accepted need is quickly falling to the wayside as unrealistic.
This is why upon hearing of the Senator from California, Kamala Devi Harris’s suggestion that the U.S. Immigration Customs Enforcement Department (ICE) be scrapped and re-engineered is such an intriguing idea. This would be an interesting exercise in demonstrating the true nature of governmental power - the ability to modify itself to meet immediate requirements, a measure being the lessening of rationale and justification of incompetence placing blame on governmental structure itself. It would also be a good test to see just what have we learned as a people over the centuries of our nation’s existence. Should we prove to have learned more about politicking than governance, it would then be a good alert that we should redirect our efforts if for no other reason than to ensure we meet the generational obligation we have to possess a nation of integrity to pass to succeeding generations. All things of significance developed and created by our modern society require the team efforts of hundreds, if not thousands of people, who by cooperation and coordination can assemble such things as jumbo aircraft, super tankers, or the myriad of items which make up digital technology. So it would seem a project such as this would evince this large-scale cooperative nature of modern society. Teams from each area of expertise would be pulled-in; law enforcement, legal analysis, child care, psychology, public health, even architects and ground plant development would come into play. The idea being: This isn’t to meet an immediate requirement, but to create a department which can respond on the fly to variations as they arise in a situation we know will be with us as long as we have national borders.
Successfully accomplishing a task such as this in itself would instruct us on how such a task should be approached and inform upon the next such project. Should that be how public education is handled? Housing for the elderly? How health care is delivered, dealing with actual health care and not insurance companies? I know of two presidential candidates who, while campaigning, said they would rework the U.S. agricultural policy. Both were elected, and both dropped that idea never to be mentioned again. All one need do is look a the aggregate of policy and law comprising agriculture (our food supply) and see why. It is probably the most voluminous and convoluted governmental process ever devised. It is so burdensome and tangled people would rather walk away from it than assume the gargantuan burden of trying to convert it into something efficient, and useful. As a result, it may be added, agricultural policy is a favorite ground for tax avoidance. It also contributes to rising land values which price average families out of the hope of the small farm, and has a knock-on impact on real estate costs which make low-income housing no more than a jest. (You may add those two to your list of abandoned foundational elements; the small farm and affordable housing.)
There will be opposition. Their tactics will be to mischaracterize, obfuscate and confuse. They will be those who have learned to game the existing system. They know if the system is markedly improved the gaps and loopholes they exploit will be closed, and they’ll either have to live with the accompanying loss of money and influence, or discover the faults of the new system. Yes, the new system will have faults. Understanding this going in allows one to accommodate it as a reality, engineering flexibility allowing for correction, because the same strata of society that has lived since time immemorial gaming existing systems will set upon any new one with the same goal in mind. They will try to devise the language with which this subject is discussed. They will try to establish issues, and invent threats trying to provoke fears, trying to hold up to ridicule those attempting to engage in any change. Forewarned is forearmed. Maybe these are the fools referred to when invoking the “fool proof” system.
It seems the list of what government is abandoning as a responsibility because it’s either “too big” or “too expensive” to deal with is growing while the list of what government can deal with effectively is shrinking. It’s no mystery why this is. The mystery is, does the citizenry have foresight and fortitude sufficient to turn this around? Or, will it resign itself, and by so doing relegate its offspring, to having to do without? There is no question this is the trend. Yet, to accept the trend as inevitable is to pre-conclude the futility of government, and ensure the success of those wishing to exploit inefficiency and confusion. Ultimately, it’s a test of logic and reason. Will these suffice? Modular government seems to be a way significant change can be implemented with as little overall shock to the system as possible, with the potential to eventually work around to each area of governmental concern from the overburdened judicial system to the inevitable traffic at our borders. (Aren’t those two connected…somehow?) The goal? How about modifying government into a system that sets an example for the 22nd Century; a government that incorporates what we’ve learned, and what we’ve become over the past centuries? Or, try to flog this system until its wheels fall off, then shrug and dump the problem onto the next generation. Which approach is “us”?