A Concerned Man’s Rant

January 8, 2019

A Concerned Man’s Rant


Mark Rubin

I thought about an old client today. He had a sweet deal. Too sweet, according to a wise man I knew from another life. “The other side can’t operate, with your client’s contract. Give the man a break.”

My client grew up believing in the sanctity of anything and everything which advantaged … him. “No way,” he told me. “In America, a contract matters!” Not so much, it turns out, with an executory contract and the Bankruptcy Court. (Executory contract? A contract which requires performance in the future.) A Chapter 11 proceeding terminated the contract, leaving my client in the cold, literally.

The old case came to mind on account of lots of talk about the undemocratic U.S. Senate and the Electoral College. These institutions favor small states because, without regard for population, each state gets two Senators and the number of electors—the people who formally select the President and Vice President—which equals that state’s Senators and Representatives.

How much favor? Using 2010 census data, 37,341,989 people lived in California, and 568,300 lived in Wyoming. Theoretically, each CA senator represents 18.6M people, while a WY senator represents 284K. The California senators represent 65X the number people their counterparts in Wyoming represent.

The effect is less dramatic in the Electoral College, but only less so. Using 2010 census figures, a presidential candidate can get more than the 270 necessary electoral votes from states with only 46% of the U.S. population. And, as more and more people move away from rural America, this differential has grown, and will grow into the future.

A acquaintance pronounced, earlier in the day, that “America is not a Democracy, we are a Republic of States.” Well, maybe. (He added, “Democratic rule by national majority is only mob rule.” Give it up for grandiloquent gibberish!)

Rule by a national majority does not equal mob rule. It does, though, vary from our undemocratic system. But, of course, when our forefathers adopted our Constitution in 1787, no one contemplated 50 states, much less a population variance of 65X, between the largest and smallest states. (There is so much, by the way, that could not be foreseen so long ago.)

All of which brings me full circle, back to my client with the very good deal. Presently, we live amongst an aggrieved minority which controls our government. Because of a 231-year-old document, the Man at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue controls our lives, even though a substantial majority among us chose someone else.

One of our congressional bodies represents a brake on majority rule, with a structure which favors governmental constructs—states—over the people who live in them. The other, more representative, has limited power—the Constitution gives the Senate exclusive authority over appointments, as against the House of Representatives—and functions barely.

For now, the aggrieved minority rules. But its power depends on the status quo. A Constitution. Institutions people will respect. People in power who play by the rules.

Y’all—the aggrieved minority—have nothing, really, to fear from Senator Elizabeth Warren (D – Mass.). Or anyone else on the D side who thinks he or she might want to live in the White House. Everyone plays by the rules. You won’t like their policies, but they color inside the lines.

Want something to fret about. Check out AOC aka Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D – N.Y.). She scares me, and I’m a Leftie.

Y’all have pushed the envelope hard, and when I say y’all I’m really talking to those among the aggrieved minority for whom America has delivered. Those among us whose ancestors left dangerous places, sailing into New York harbor under the watchful eye of Lady Liberty. Those among us who, because of fortunate genes, have done well. (And done well, also, because America left behind a hidebound class system, offered a stable property rights regime, provided governmental support for higher education, and has within its cultural DNA an economic system which rewards risk and success.) And, among us, those who can’t seem to appreciate the fact that in 2019, people in this world still suffer from the same forms of oppression which brought our people here.

My client learned a hard lesson, when he forced me to step on the gas more than 20 years ago. Y’all have the laws and the governmental structure on your side, for now. But you’re not hearing the majority, which has had its fill of your righteous indignation, as you advantage yourselves at the expense of the majority. You might want to ease off just a bit, for I can feel the counter-balance coming. And if you think the Constitution and your POTUS’s Court will save you, I think you suffer from a lack of imagination.

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