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A Constitutional Convention in 2006, Part 2

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posted on Jul, 16 2006 @ 04:58 PM
Bureaucracy. Civil Service. Working for the ruler. Or for the government. Since the earliest histories of Egypt, Persia and Mesopotamia, there have been bureaucracies. Confucius was a civil servant. Any organized society must function through the institution of bureaucracy.

America has a bad history in its civil service. Until Vice President Chester A Arthur became president in 1881, the largest unit of the Federal government was the Customs Office of New York Harbor. Arthur had been the Port Collector. It was also the largest source of Federal revenue. All Federal employees were political patronage appointees.

In 1883, following the assassination of President Garfield in 1881, by a disgruntled job seeker, the Congress created the Civil Service Commission which was to oversee the hiring of Federal employees. The Civil Service Commission’s job was like an employment agency. It pre-qualified the applicants and forwarded the names of the top three to the requesting agency. That choice could legally be politically influenced.

After the Civil War, the country was once again in an expansive mood. From 1867 until 1890, Nebraska, Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Washington, Idaho and Wyoming came into the Union. There were no roads and no large, deep rivers serving this vast territory. Railroads were the answer. In 1869, the first trans-continental railroad was finished at Promontory Point, Utah Territory. Every town in the west wanted to be connected. It was a matter of survival. New railroads were being formed at a frenetic pace.

But there was also much confusion. Every city established its own time of day. Railroads had many different age or track width. Freight rates were scandalous. Kickbacks were common to larger shippers. Employee safety was a dirty word. Investor security was disregarded. The new industry cried out for some form of uniformity. Some rules to play by. with the national demographics

The ICC divided the country into 4 time zones called Standard time zones. A standard track width spacing or gage - 56 ½ inches - was adopted. Note: this is the “natural” distance apart the two parallel paths made by a two horse team. Late came the establishment of uniform rates. Note: The ICC never “set” rates, rather, the ICC required and enforced that all customers got the same posted

By 1987, the number of Federal civilian employees reached 3 million. Over 1 million worked for the Department of Defense, 750,000 for the US Postal Service and 210,000 for the VA. 31% of employees had a baccalaureate degree or higher. The average length of service was 13 + years. Ironically, the Justice Department added 13,000 employees over the decade 1977-1987, for the stated purpose of “expanded efforts to control our borders . . and enforcing drug laws.”

The US civil service includes over 900 job descriptions. One of the greatest examples of a good bureaucracy at work is the Tennessee Valley Authority. In 1987, it employed 39,000. The TVA was a New Deal creation offered as a demonstration project how government intervention could restore a poor, mainly rural area suffering from severely depleted soil, and was largely devoid of all the accouterments of success in America.

The mission statement of the TVA was, 1) flood control, 2) recreation, 3) conservation and 4) restoration of the whole region as defined by the drainage basin of the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers. All of Tennessee, a bit of north Georgia, more of northern Alabama, a very small part of northeast Mississippi and a air sized amount of southwest Kentucky.

TVA built many dams for flood control and hydroelectric power. Lakes are used for boating and fishing, the two largest being Kentucky Lake of the Tennessee River and Barkley Lake of the Cumberland River. Each empties into the Ohio River only a few miles apart. Aside: the Cumberland River begins up in the mountains of eastern Kentucky at Cumberland Falls, which has the only moonbow in the Western Hemisphere.

The TVA planted millions of trees. It assisted farmers plan for crop rotation and contour cultivation of their land to reduce soil erosion. The TVA and CCC built many parks still in use. And one final boast for the TVA. It had sufficient surplus electric generating capacity to make the Manhattan Project possible at a new city, Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Without that electricity, America could not have purified uranium needed for the atomic bombs that ended War 2.

Today, 115,000 workers in the Internal Revenue Service branch of the Treasury Department collect almost $3 T. a year in taxes. Other Federal bureaus provide weather information and make scheduled air travel possible and safe. Various agencies of government protect the environment, manage publicly owned lands, and it goes on and on.

About 25,000 people work for the Judiciary branch of our government. And 40,000 work for the Legislative branch. Over 98% of the remaining civilian employees work for the Executive branch.

It is my belief this vast army of workers needs to be separated from the operational head of government, the office of the President. It is true that at one time, when government was so much smaller and maybe more intimate, the election of the president could produce a change of the government right down to the local postmaster. But today, we need skilled, trained and professional government employees, not politically responsive minions.

To accompli this I propose a fourth branch of government, the permanent branch. Presidents may come and go, Congress will be replaced every so often and even judges will die in office. But the public’s need for efficient, informed, capable and responsive service to the public. And has not much to do who is in charge of policy and its implementation.

Article 4. Section 1. The power and obligation of the United States to provide for the public service of its people, and to carry out the duties assigned to it by other branches with care and dispatch, there is herein established a Civil Service of the United States.

Section 2. The Civil Service shall be overseen by a Board of Commissioners, fifteen in number,

Section 3. No person who serves on the Board may hold another position involved with the Government for 5 years, but this provision does not apply to an elected office. Commissioners shall be paid the same as the Vice President.

So this is my proposal to be taken up at the next Constitutional Convention.

[edit on 7/16/2006 by donwhite]

posted on Jul, 16 2006 @ 05:59 PM
That is a rather impressive epitome of history you've created, donwhite. I'm certain others will find plenty to say about your ideas. Thanks for your participaiton in Social Issues.

posted on Jul, 17 2006 @ 04:19 AM
Interesting proposal, dw. How will these members be selected? Who do they answer to for oversight? Congressional oversight? There would seem, on the surface anyhow, a lot of room for untoward behaviour, if not outright corruption, the which the government has far too much already. Are the Commissioners permanently apointed? Or are their terms limited in time to 2 years or longer, but they must eventually step down? It would seem that a turnover of members would enable new ideas to be implemented with a minimum of bickering...lack of a seniority based hierarchy and all that that implies.

Still and all, an interesting proposal...and I look forward to you further fleshing out your proposal.

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