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Cavebear Blog

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Democracy Versus Stakeholderism

Joe Everyman, Mr. Corporate, and Ms. Lawfirm walk into a voting precinct. Each gets a ballot, each marks his/her choices, and each puts the marked ballot into the voting box.

Joe Everyman, believing in the principle of one-man, one-vote, leaves.

But Mr. Corporate and Ms. Lawfirm each walk outside, put a sock puppet onto each of their hands, re-enter the precinct and use ventriloquist voices to demand to ballots for each puppet.

The precinct workers say, “you can’t vote a second and third time!”

But Mr. Corporate and Ms. Lawfirm answer on behalf of their respective sock puppets: “I am not voting again, I am merely accompanying a pair of stakeholders who now want to cast their own votes.”

Huh? You would be quite correct if you were to say “This is not democracy!”

But you would be quite wrong if you were to think that this kind of thing does not happen.

In fact it happens quite often.

It goes by then name “multi-stakeholder” or simply “stakeholders”. These are systems in which some people get to use sock-puppets to multiply their votes and influence.

Reformation of the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS)

Throughout our country people are talking about the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS).

There are few alive today who have experienced a more conservative Supreme Court.

And there are few objective observers who would deny that on today’s court that legal principle is often subordinated to fundamentalist religious views, libertarian biases against the Federal government, or hazy notions of “natural law”.

Many of the conversation about SCOTUS ask whether we ought to expand the number of justices (pejoratively called “court packing”) or impose some sort of term or age limits on the justices (which would probably require a Constitutional amendment that would be a practical impossibility in today’s political climate.)

But there is another matter.

It is an important matter. It is overlooked. It is a matter that is fully within the power of Congress (with the President’s signature). And it is a matter that requires no Constitutional amendment.

Our Supreme Court is overworked.

The growth of our government, our regulatory agencies, and the ever ramifying complexity of our lives, economy, and technology have increased the work demanded of the court.

SCOTUS does not have the resources to do a proper job.

This article argues that we ought to reshape our Supreme Court so that it can better deal with the workload.

This article proposes nothing radical. Rather the proposal here builds upon long established practices of US courts, most particularly the United States courts of appeal.

Jay Nova Hoffman

Permanent URL: https://www.cavebear.com/cavebear-blog/jayhoffman/
Revised: Nobember 23, 2021

My oldest friend died this morning.

Alzheimers.

Jay Nova Hoffman.

I’ve known him since we met one morning at Hazeltine Elementary School in Van Nuys (California) waiting to get into the first day of Mr. Stone’s 4th grade class.

I doubt that any of us thought that our teacher, Mr. Stone, had a first name, much less knew it.

Jay went on to become a teacher and educator. I suspect that his students knew his first name.

Jay and I somehow managed to both win a Good Citizenship medal from the Daughters of the American Revolution. Had the DAR had any notion of what our political and social views would become they probably would have chosen differently.

Modern Software Recapitulates Greek Mythology

Saturn Devouring His Son by Francisco de Goya y Lucientes

The Titan Kronos (Saturn) ate his children.

Modern software developers are doing the same.

Kronos was afraid being overthrown by his sons. So he eliminated them.

Many modern software developers seem hell bent on devouring the past. But they have less reason to do so than did Kronos.

Few of us remember mainframe computers (although they still exist). During their heyday from the 1950s through the 1990s the unbreakable rule was “backwards compatibility”. It was a great sin to change an API (Application Programming Interface) to an operating system or library in a way that could cause existing software to go awry or fail.

This honoring of the past worked: There are many mainframe financial applications, written (often in the 1959 language Cobol) between 1960 and 1990 that are still in heavy use today.

However, today the concept of backward compatibility is no longer universally respected. Today many software developers and providers do not bother to pause and think of the consequences before racing forward and breaking with the past.

We are forcing people to fix what is not broken. We are forcing people to rewrite working code or abandon working products simply because someone, somewhere has decided to cancel existing, working software foundations, often for no reason more substantial than that those foundations are older and perhaps less “elegant” in the eyes of some.

Vote Yes on the TCAA/RNIS Business Plan

To: The Commissioners of the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission (RTC)

On May 6, 2021 the RTC Commissioners will once again be voting on the Transit Corridor Alternatives Analysis and Rail Network Integration Study (TCAA/RNIS) Business plan.

That Business Plan deserves your approval.

Santa Cruz County has a traffic problem, a large traffic problem. Most residents and businesses in Santa Cruz County are concentrated in a long, narrow coastal plain between Watsonville at the south end and Santa Cruz at the north.

The principal arteries of transportation are two highways: Highways 1 and 17. Both are aging and designed for an era when Santa Cruz County was more rural. Both congest and clog daily.

Caltrans has widened parts of Highway 1 with almost no long-term benefit. And there’s little chance that the infamous “fishook” or the obsolete on/off ramps (such as Soquel near Dominican) will be remedied.

Today, even in the era of Covid-19 and work-at-home, there is a daily tide of commuter traffic. In the morning much of that tide flows north on Highway 1 from Watsonville to Santa Cruz. Much of that traffic continues over Highway 17 to Silicon Valley. In the evening that tide reverses. Long delays occur every day as thousands of automobiles stop, creep, and stop again.

We have a system of smaller roadways, such as Soquel Drive. But they are mere capillaries.

And yet, right in front of us is a golden resource – The “Santa Cruz Branch Rail Line” (SCBRL), an old rail line that runs from a junction with the Union Pacific (and future Caltrain) line in Watsonville, north through Santa Cruz and on to Davenport. These still functioning tracks run close to the Monterey Bay shoreline and roughly parallel to Highway 1.

Do We Need Rubber Rooms for Federal Judges? Two Plans To Reduce The Long Tailed Impact of Trump Judicial Appointees

Permanent URL: https://www.cavebear.com/cavebear-blog/rubber-rooms/
Revised: September 22, 2020

Ruth Bader Ginsburg died last Friday.

Already, many are talking about adding new justices to the Supreme Court to overcome the political imbalance that is likely to occur when a new Justice is confirmed to fill her now vacant seat.

However, this article is not about the Supreme Court or the addition of new Justices.

Instead, I want to address two subordinate Federal courts — our system of District and Circuit (appellate) courts.

The judges on these courts are generally referred to as “Article III” judges to distinguish them from judges on Federal regulatory and administrative courts. Article III judges “hold their offices during good behaviour”. This effectively means they have lifetime appointments.

The membership of the Supreme Court gets most of our attention. Yet, during the 2017-2021 presidential term those lower courts have been packed with more than 200 questionable or highly biased appointees.

The District Courts handle all Federal trials. The Circuit courts handle all appeals aside from the tiny portion that is taken up by the Supreme Court.

The impact of the last four years of Federal judicial appointments is significant, amounting to 25% of all Article III judges.

And because those judges have lifetime appointments that impact could continue for years. Generations of new and existing voters could find their majority views and votes blocked and nullified by judicial decisions made by those judges.

How do we deal with this?

While the problem might seem hopeless, there are things we can do.

Our New Reconstruction: Constraining The Growth of Presidential Powers

Permanent URL: https://www.cavebear.com/cavebear-blog/executive-amendment/
Revised: September 23, 2020

The Trump presidency has been a Constitutional disaster for the United States. Presidential power, which already had been growing at an alarming rate in prior administrations, has exploded to dictatorial levels under Trump.

It is not reasonable to expect that future presidents will easily reject these powers. Even if not used by the next or subsequent presidents these powers will retain their potency and be available to be resurrected and used.

Many of these new claims to executive power exclude, in practical reality if not in academic theory, the authority of Congress, the Courts, or the people of the United States to step in to impose corrections or limitations.

Our system of Separation of Powers has been weakened. Madison’s notion, as expressed in the Federalist Papers (Number 51), that “Ambition must be made to counteract ambition”, is in need of life support.

Because the basic allocation of authority in the United States comes from our Constitution it is beyond the power of Congress, the courts, or the States either individually or in concert, to do more than apply cosmetic remedies.

As a consequence we are faced with an exigent need to update our US Constitution with one or more amendments that define the limits of executive authority and create and enhance the balancing powers vested in the other branches of government and the citizenry.

In the years just after the Civil War, Congress and the States created three new Constitutional amendments, along with a body of supporting legislation. These Amendments and laws reshaped our country in ways that remain important, more than 150 years later.

It is time to do so again.

Our nation is in need of New Reconstruction.

A Bill to ensure that United States Treasury funds are not expended for certain purposes of personal aggrandizement or self promotion.

I’m working on this to send to my congress critters as a request for legislation. This is a first draft…

H. R. _

To ensure that United States Treasury funds are not expended for certain purposes of personal aggrandizement or self promotion.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

November 8, 2018

A BILL

To ensure that United States Treasury funds are not expended for certain purposes of personal aggrandizement or self promotion.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. Short title.

This Act may be cited as the “Challenge and Commemorative Coins Act of 2018”.

SECTION. 2. Limits on Challenge and Commemorative Coins.

(a) Any other provision of law notwithstanding, no elected official, appointed official, employee of the United States Government, or member of the United States armed forces may expend or commit any United States funds or assets for any purpose associated with the design, creation, or dissemination of any Challenge or Commemorative Coin bearing the likeness or name of any living person.

(b) Congress may enact specific exceptions to subsection (a).

(c) Definitions.—In this section:

(1) The term “Challenge of Commemorative Coin” means…

(2) The term “Likeness” means any photograph, video, movie, drawing, cartoon, sculpture, bas relief, or other visual representation.

Redressing the Distortion of Elections and Political Speech by Corporations

(This was originally posted on Oct 14, 2011.)

Proposed Amendment to the United States Constitution To Redress the Increasing Distortion of Elections and Political Speech by Corporations and Other Aggregate Forms

Proposed Text

Corporate and other aggregate forms of organization are neither Persons nor Citizens under this Constitution and shall have neither protections, rights, nor legal standing under this Constitution

This Amendment shall not be construed to deny or disparage the power of Congress or the Several States to enact legislation that defines rights, powers, limitations, liabilities, and standing of such corporate and other aggregate forms of organization

Tiny Houses Are A Weak Idea

There is no doubt that many of our communities need safe, clean, accessible, and inexpensive housing.

This note does not dispute that need. Rather, this article, questions whether “Tiny Houses” are among the better answer or whether there are better approaches.

Many communities are under pressure by advocates for increased housing for the homeless to consider adopting policies that encourage tiny homes.

The argument made here is such policies may be a weak answer to the need to provide housing for the homeless.