September 3, 2014 – Arsenal For Democracy 98

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Topics: Big Idea – Low-Income Banking Reform; 2018 and 2022 World Cups controversies revisited; Guest interview on the Ebola outbreak – Sara Laskowski, US Peace Corps, Guinea. People: Bill, Nate. Produced: August 29, 2014.

Discussion Points:

– Big Idea: How could the U.S. reform and expand consumer banking services for local income Americans to reduce predatory lending and other bad practices?
– Will sanctions on Russia and Qatar’s sponsorship of terrorism, among other problems, force the FIFA World Cup to change locations or schedules in 2018 and 2022?
– Guest Interview: UD Alum and Peace Corps member Sara Laskowski discusses being evacuated from Guinea due to the Ebola outbreak.

Part 1 – Consumer Banking Reform:
Part 1 – Consumer Banking Reform – AFD 98
Part 2 – Future World Cup Controversies:
Part 2 – Russian and Qatari World Cups – AFD 98
Part 3 – Sara Laskowski on Guinea and Ebola:
Part 3 – Sara Laskowski – AFD 98

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Related links
Segment 1

The Globalist: “The Democratization of Banking” by Robert J. Shiller
NYT Editorial Board: Reining in Payday Lenders

Segment 2

Moscow Times: Putin Hopes Russia Won’t Lose Right to Host World Cup 2018
Washington Post: New study says 2022 World Cup in Qatar will be too hot to even sit and watch
James Dorsey/Al Jazeera: The stakes are high in Qatar’s World Cup drama
James Dorsey/The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer: Gulf states and their US critics seek to shape US perceptions on the soccer pitch
James Dorsey/The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer: Amnesty International report undermines Qatar’s soft power defense strategy

Segment 3

Sara Laskowski / Guinean Dreams: On Being Evacuated: It’s Every Volunteer’s Worst Nightmare
AFD: Ebola outbreak causes Peace Corps pullout

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And don’t forget to check out The Digitized Ramblings of an 8-Bit Animal, the video blog of our announcer, Justin.

August 27, 2014 – Arsenal For Democracy 97

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Topics: Big Idea – How to regulate the Ubers and Airbnbs of the world; US, ISIS, and Syria; Interview with freelance writer and Ferguson protest eyewitness Jamie Nesbitt Golden. People: Bill, Persephone. Produced: August 24, 2014.

Discussion Points:

– Big Idea: Are “sharing economy” services like Uber and Airbnb helping people avoid important safety regulations and local taxes?
– What would be the consequences if the U.S. intervenes militarily against ISIS inside Syria?
– How much focus should be on Ferguson versus the wider problem nationwide?

Part 1 – Sharing Economy:
Part 1 – Sharing Economy – AFD 97
Part 2 – US, ISIS, Syria:
Part 2 – US, ISIS, Syria – AFD 97
Part 3 – Jamie Nesbitt Golden:
Part 3 – Jamie Nesbitt Golden on Ferguson – AFD 97

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August 13, 2014 – Arsenal For Democracy 95

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Topics: Big Ideas in U.S. Reform – Guaranteed Incomes vs Job Creation; Higher Education Reform. Iraq analysis. People: Bill, Persephone, Nate. Produced: August 10, 2014.

Discussion Points:

– Big Idea: Should government guarantee minimum incomes or guarantee jobs? What is the purpose of employment?
– Big Idea: What is the government’s proper role in reforming and regulating higher education?
– Iraq: How far should the current U.S. intervention go?

Part 1 – Income vs Jobs:
Part 1 – Guaranteed Incomes – AFD 95
Part 2 – Higher Ed Reform:
Part 2 – Higher Ed Reform – AFD 95
Part 3 – Iraq Intervention:
Part 3 – Iraq Intervention – AFD 95

To get one file for the whole episode, we recommend using one of the subscribe links at the bottom of the post.

Related links
Segment 1

Vox: A guaranteed income for every American would eliminate poverty — and it wouldn’t destroy the economy

Segment 2

Slate: The Dangerous Conservative Idea for Making College Cheaper

Segment 3

AFD: Questionable complaints from Baghdad
AFD: Analysis of Mosul Dam, Mount Sinjar, U.S. Airstrikes
AFD: Who are the Yazidis at Mount Sinjar right now?
AFD: ISIS rolls back Kurdish forces in Iraq. What’s next?

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July 30, 2014 – Arsenal For Democracy 94

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Topics: Big Ideas in U.S. Reform – Measuring government performance; Arms control; Libya crisis. People: Bill and Persephone. Produced: July 27, 2014.

Discussion Points:

– Big Idea: Can government programs’ performance be measured objectively — or is it inherently political?
– Should the U.S. and its NATO allies completely stop selling and giving weapons to other governments, especially repressive ones?
– Is a general from Virginia about to become the next dictator of Libya? Should the U.S. pick a side?

Part 1 – Measurement:
Part 1 – Measurement – AFD 94
Part 2 – Arms Sales:
Part 2 – Arms Sales – AFD 94
Part 3 – Libya Crisis:
Part 3 – Libya Crisis – AFD 94

To get one file for the whole episode, we recommend using one of the subscribe links at the bottom of the post.

Related links
Segment 1

– AFD: Should government programs be funded Moneyball-style?
– NYT: The Quiet Movement to Make Government Fail Less Often
– AFD: In Mass., Goldman wants in on prison profit stream
– AFD: United State of Unemployment

Segment 2

– AFD: UK has a real arms sales problem on its hands
– Middle East Monitor: Kerry says US will deliver Apache helicopters to Egypt soon

Segment 3

– AFD: US embassy staff moved out of Libya
– AFD: Meanwhile in Libya
– Previously on the show: July 2013 debate on types of U.S. involvement in Syria

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July 23, 2014 – Arsenal For Democracy 93

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Topics: Big Ideas in U.S. Reform — Is health care a human right? Central American unaccompanied children. People: Bill, Nate, Greg. Produced: July 20, 2014.

Discussion Points:

– Is health care a fundamental human right? Why or why not?
– What should be done about the wave of unaccompanied children arriving in the United States from Central America without permission?

Part 1 – Health care:
Part 1 – Health care – AFD 92
Part 2 – Unaccompanied children:
Part 2 – Unaccompanied children – AFD 93

To get one file for the whole episode, we recommend using one of the subscribe links at the bottom of the post.

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AFD: Central American toddlers are existential threat to USA, say militias
AFD: Unaccompanied minors forced to defend themselves in court

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July 16, 2014 – Arsenal For Democracy 92

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The Big Ideas for Reforming American Governance episode. Topics: gerrymandering, constitutional amendment conventions, interstate compacts. People: Bill, Nate, Persephone. Produced: July 13, 2014.

Discussion Points:

– How should Congressional districts be drawn?
– Should the states exercise their option to request a national convention to discuss constitutional amendments?
– Can some U.S. policy problems be solved through interstate compacts instead of state-only or Federal-only approaches?

We’re piloting a new concept on this week’s episode for future segments. All three segments this week are examples. Please email us or contact us on social media to let us know what you think.

Part 1 – Gerrymandering:
Part 1 – Gerrymandering – AFD 92
Part 2 – Amendment Convention:
Part 2 – Convention – AFD 92
Part 3 – Sectional Interstate Compacts:
Part 3 – Interstate Compacts – AFD 92

To get one file for the whole episode, we recommend using one of the subscribe links at the bottom of the post.

Related links
Segment 1

– PBS Newshour: Judge rules Fla. Legislature broke laws on congressional district maps
– AFD: Democrats need to focus on state legislatures (or stay doomed)

Segment 2

– AFD: Amending The Constitution: The National Convention Option?
– The Atlantic: “A Real Step to Fix Democracy” by Lawrence Lessig

Segment 3

– Book: “American Nations” by Colin Woodard
– Wikipedia: Interstate compact
– Wikipedia: Compact Clause
– Wikipedia: Driver License Compact

Correction Note: In the third segment, Bill incorrectly listed the states in the Delaware River Basin compact. They are Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York.

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Amending the Constitution: The National Convention Option?

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This new essay by Lawrence Lessig partially answers a question I had recently been pondering. That question was about whether it would be feasible (on paper) to do a constitutional convention through Article V (the one about how to amend the U.S. Constitution). It’s permissible but hasn’t ever been tried. Here’s the relevant part of that provision:

Article V: The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress…

 
Lessig points out that this alternative route, which has never been used, isn’t actually all that special or worrisome. It’s not like a free-for-all that can just junk the whole document. A Constitutional Convention could only be convened by the formal request of 2/3rds of the U.S. states (34 now) and it could only propose amendments to the existing Constitution, which would then be sent back — just like Congressional amendments! — for approval by 3/4ths of the U.S. states (38 now). That last part is always the hardest, and this doesn’t change that.

That’s consistent with the interpretation posted on the U.S. Senate website’s page explaining different parts of the U.S. Constitution:

The Constitution also authorizes a national convention, when two-thirds of the states petition Congress for such a convention, to propose amendments, which would also have to be ratified by three-quarters of the states.

 
So, the national convention route is actually probably even more complicated to get it rolling, in that it requires all the cat-herding of more than 30 states be done twice over (once going in and once coming out), and then once it’s rolling it’s no easier or more dangerous than the usual amendment process.

The advantage it (potentially) has is that it circumvents the need to have members of Congress vote on specific amendments that might affect them or the special interests they favor. It would also be within the much stronger state-level tradition of public interest reform by direct democracy.

Interestingly, Lessig doesn’t address Article V’s provision for allowing states to create special conventions for ratification. He specifically — intentionally I assume — uses the more generic term “states” when discussing the ratification side, although he mentions legislative party control in passing. The likeliest format would be for the legislatures to vote up or down on the convention’s proposed amendments, just as they would for amendments from Congress, but it’s not required.

Let’s take a second look at Article V: Read more