J. Nelson Leith http://j.nelsonleith.com J. Nelson Leith Thu, 20 Jul 2017 23:06:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8 14941415 Gerrymandering has only one workable solution, and it’s simple, fair, and non-partisan http://j.nelsonleith.com/2017/07/15/gerrymandering-has-only-one-workable-solution-and-its-simple-fair-and-non-partisan/ http://j.nelsonleith.com/2017/07/15/gerrymandering-has-only-one-workable-solution-and-its-simple-fair-and-non-partisan/#respond Sat, 15 Jul 2017 15:56:47 +0000 http://j.nelsonleith.com/?p=14096 Earlier this year, I posted an atypical political essay on how to clean up the Senate and free it from partisan gridlock. I usually try to confine myself to art and literature, with occasional dumb memes. But there’s a debate these days on the partisan gerrymandering of the districts that feed into the US House of Representatives, and a case before the Supreme Court. The same policy I proposed to reform the Senate would do even better applied to the House.

The elephant in the room (or the donkey, depending on your allegiances) is that the US Constitution does not require districts at all. It requires a two-year election cycle, a twenty-five year age limit, seven years of US citizenship, and living in the state represented. And, it sets the number of Representatives for each state by population. It does not requires election by district.

So, an obvious solution to the problem of gerrymandered districts is to just ditch the districts. I call this model Free Constituencies.

This is how it would work. Instead of corralling voters into geographic enclosures, which politicians have designed to give them no real choice, we let voters choose their own constituencies statewide. The technical term is proportional representation. A slate of candidates run statewide, everyone gets to vote for whomever they want. Since a given state gets x number of Representatives based on population, the top x vote-getting candidates in that state win seats in the House. The rare tie for the bottom seat could be handled by a run-off.

This model maintains constitutional legality, liberates voters from manipulation, and utterly eliminates the ability of party bosses to gerrymander their states. Why do I call it Free Constituencies? Because any group of people can organically create their own constituency, not based on race or economic status, but based on each voter’s individual values. If they want to vote by race or economic status, they can. But, if they’d prefer to choose candidates based on single-issue attitudes toward climate change, law-and-order, LGBT rights, or national security, they’re free to do so.

In other words, it’s in a sense a free market election reform, but I avoided calling it something like Market Constituencies because “free market” signals a partisan alignment that belies its non-partisan intention and effect. In fact, “free market” often serves as a dog whistle for policies that have nothing to do genuine free market economics, which (as Adam Smith himself realized) require certain regulations, for example to fend off collusion, oligopolies, perverse incentives, fraud, and unintentional information gradients.

But, existing election laws would help serve that regulatory purpose under a Free Constituencies model, and could be easily tweaked to help keep candidates honest.

Not only would Free Constituencies be a legal and effective reform, I think it is the only reform that would effectively address the political corralling of voters that gerrymandering imposes on our republic. This is probably why partisans on both the right and the left don’t want to talk about it. It removes a centuries-old power tool from their kit.

 

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The Fourth Coming http://j.nelsonleith.com/2017/07/15/the-fourth-coming/ http://j.nelsonleith.com/2017/07/15/the-fourth-coming/#respond Sat, 15 Jul 2017 11:49:40 +0000 http://j.nelsonleith.com/?p=14092

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The final free chapters of The Ends of the World now available for first readers http://j.nelsonleith.com/2017/06/21/the-final-free-chapters-of-the-ends-of-the-world-now-available-for-first-readers/ Wed, 21 Jun 2017 22:53:30 +0000 http://j.nelsonleith.com/?p=13960 The Ends of the World, a fantasy novel about dead 21st century people thrust into a pirate purgatory stuck in the 1700s, is now in its second serial re-release.

The first run went well, but the story needed a little something, so two new characters were added: Lincoln West, an NBA draftee who was killed breaking up a bar fight, and Mukki Scott a Canadian Blackfoot and Lincoln’s lover.

Whether you’ve been following the adventure or you’re new to the story, these two new guys will add some real punch to your experience. The first twenty-three chapters are free to read! The final two chapters will be available upon publication. We’ll keep you updated!

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Normally I don’t do jokes about foreigners… http://j.nelsonleith.com/2017/06/20/normally-i-dont-do-jokes-about-foreigners/ Tue, 20 Jun 2017 12:16:39 +0000 http://j.nelsonleith.com/?p=13944

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The Ends of the World, free to read through chapter 20 http://j.nelsonleith.com/2017/06/15/the-ends-of-the-world-free-to-read-through-chapter-20/ Thu, 15 Jun 2017 23:32:09 +0000 http://j.nelsonleith.com/?p=13936 The Ends of the World, a fantasy novel about dead, 21st century people thrust into a pirate purgatory stuck in the 1700s, is now in its second serial re-release.

The first run went well, but the story needed a little something, so two new characters were added: Lincoln West, an NBA draftee who was killed breaking up a bar fight, and Mukki Scott a Canadian Blackfoot and Lincoln’s lover.

Whether you’ve been following the adventure or you’re new to the story, these two new guys will add some real punch to your experience. The first twenty chapters are free to read, for now!

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The Ends of the World, chapter eleven to fifteen, free to read! http://j.nelsonleith.com/2017/06/12/the-ends-of-the-world-chapter-eleven-to-fifteen-free-to-read/ Mon, 12 Jun 2017 21:34:31 +0000 http://j.nelsonleith.com/?p=13919 The Ends of the World, a fantasy novel about modern (dead) people thrust into a pirate purgatory stuck in the 1700s, is now in its second serial re-release.

The first run went well, but the story needed a little something, so two new characters were added: Lincoln West, an NBA draftee who was killed breaking up a bar fight, and Mukki Scott a Canadian Blackfoot and Lincoln’s lover.

Whether you’ve been following the adventure or you’re new to the story, these two new guys will add some real punch to your experience. The first fifteen chapters are free to read, for now!

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The Ends of the World – Chapters Six Through Ten http://j.nelsonleith.com/2017/06/10/the-ends-of-the-world-chapters-six-through-ten/ Sat, 10 Jun 2017 20:47:00 +0000 http://j.nelsonleith.com/?p=13897 The Ends of the World, a fantasy novel about modern (dead) people thrust into a pirate purgatory stuck in the 1700s, is now in its second serial re-release.

The first run went well, but the story needed a little something, so two new characters were added: Lincoln West, an NBA draftee who was killed breaking up a bar fight, and Mukki Scott a Canadian Blackfoot and Lincoln’s lover.

Whether you’ve been following the adventure or you’re new to the story, these two new guys will add some real punch to your experience. Free to read, for now!

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The Ends of the World, revised http://j.nelsonleith.com/2017/06/08/the-ends-of-the-world-revised/ Thu, 08 Jun 2017 22:49:32 +0000 http://j.nelsonleith.com/?p=13882 I had considered ditching the fantasy adventure novel, The Ends of the World. It was missing something, I felt as a writer, something critical. Something punchy, to bring fresh energy into the Breaking Bad transformation of the narrator, John Randolph, from modern urban wage slave into calculating engineer of his own fate in a pirate purgatory.

So, I added two new characters, both newly dead. An NBA draftee, Lincoln West, who was also an engineering student in his first life. A Canadian fellow from the First Nations, Mukki Scott, who has befriended Lincoln in the afterlife.

The first five chapters of this renewed adventure are now available for Leith family readers. Whether you’re familiar with the story or you’re newly intrigued, you’ll want to start with chapter one.

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More Music – Before the Face http://j.nelsonleith.com/2017/05/30/more-music-before-the-face/ Tue, 30 May 2017 13:44:00 +0000 http://j.nelsonleith.com/?p=13861 A lot of my music, like a lot of my writing in general, has a religious or spiritual theme. This song is no exception to the rule.

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Okay, I’m finally sharing a country song http://j.nelsonleith.com/2017/05/27/okay-im-finally-sharing-a-country-song/ Sat, 27 May 2017 23:05:18 +0000 http://j.nelsonleith.com/?p=13844 I write a lot of different styles of music, but I have yet to share any country & western. A couple of weeks back, one of my friends asked if I liked country music and whether I’d ever written a country song. I like country as much as anything else (which means, I like the best of it, and generally despise the worst of it) and I have written several country songs. But, those songs were all written years ago, and there was a funny country tune bouncing around in my head that I decided was more contemporary.

So, I recorded that one. And, here it is: You’re So Odd (I Just Can’t Even).

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Pulpo Fiction http://j.nelsonleith.com/2017/05/25/pulpo-fiction/ Thu, 25 May 2017 12:15:06 +0000 http://j.nelsonleith.com/?p=13824 So, you know what they call a Quarter Pounder in France. Do you know what they call an octopus in Spain?


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A Shorty http://j.nelsonleith.com/2017/05/23/a-shorty/ Tue, 23 May 2017 12:36:36 +0000 http://j.nelsonleith.com/?p=13808

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