Monday, December 12, 2011

This Deserves a MacArthur Genius Award

This web address can also be accessed at:

* * *

I dedicate the following to my mother Ruth Eileen Maier Sylwester on the occasion of her 79th birthday today, December 12, 2011. I am the second oldest of her eight children, the seven who made it into this life and the one who did not. Though I was born from her without a left hand on June 12, 1954, she has always been my friend when I needed a friend, and I love her dearly. During her time as the stay-at-home mother of six boys and one girl, and then again later during her professional career as a public school librarian (a career she interrupted for awhile to be her own boss as the owner and operator of a university campus bookstore), she was often cantankerous and combative with her strong opinions on things, and she thereby demonstrated to me that one should think and do according to what ought to be thought and done, not according to convention or majority vote, no matter the consequence.

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
1 Corinthians 13:12 KJV

Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
John 8:31-32 NIV

Thanks be to God

Steven A. Sylwester

* * *

In the following, I propose two amendments to the United States Constitution: Amendment XXVIII (28): Identifying Certain Corporations as Foreign Nations, and Amendment XXIX (29): U.S. 1% Ownership of Protected Intellectual Property. Currently, the U.S. Constitution has twenty-seven ratified amendments, and the Twenty-Sixth Amendment, which guarantees Suffrage for Eighteen-Year-Olds, was proposed on March 23, 1971, and ratified 100 days later on July 1, 1971. Change can happen very quickly.

I have earlier proposed two other amendments to the U.S. Constitution, one guarantees Supreme Court Gender Equality and the other guarantees Universal Health Care. Like the two amendments I propose in the following, my proposed Universal Health Care amendment is a money issue that is at its heart a national security issue. My arguments in favor of my proposed Universal Health Care amendment can be read at here and here. But please read the following first.

* * *

The United States government needs money. The following two proposed amendments to the U.S. Constitution would create an enormous perpetual revenue stream and would do so reasonably and fairly in legitimate ways that are easily justifiable to even the most ardently conservative capitalist. Simply, goods and services deserve fair compensation, and that end is what is being accomplished in what I propose.

The world has changed since September 17, 1787, when the signing of the Constitution took place in Philadelphia. Then, America was mostly self-contained and mostly self-reliant in every way that mattered. Then, businesses sold their goods and services locally or regionally, very rarely nationally, and almost never internationally. Then, American businesses served America and cared about America, because America was where they profited. Today, America exists in a global economy that barely recognizes national boundaries and the sovereignty of nations, a global economy in which corporate business interests are no longer defined by any sort of national loyalty. The consequence of this remarkable embrace of the global marketplace by multinational corporations is nothing short of an all-out economic attack on America, and the national security interests of America have certainly been compromised in the outcomes.

The world has been engaged in an Economic World War for many years now, though the U.S. government publicly ignores that war at every turn. Unfortunately, America is now in a situation so dire that we are at risk of perishing as a nation unless we quickly wake up to the power shifts that are occurring at the heart of the new global economy. Enacting the following amendments would stem the tide of the Economic World War in the same manner that the D-Day Invasion stemmed the tide of World War Two. The war would not be over, but a mainland beachhead would be established from which the remaining battles could be supplied and reinforced. Victory was not made assured on D-Day, but it was made possible. As it is now in the Economic World War, the stark realities are all working against the U.S., and victory seems impossible. To make victory possible again would be to restore the hope that is the very promise of the American ideal: that the best days are still to come, that greatness is our children’s destiny.

In any search for a war strategy, a nation must first make an honest assessment of its best assets with a keen eye toward finding the weaknesses and holes. America is an implausible miracle of history, something best described with the Biblical phrase “in the fullness of time” — as if a greater purpose was at stake. What held America together at its forming revolution, and then during its Civil War, and still now in 2011 are mere words on paper: a Declaration of Independence and a United States Constitution. And so I searched the U.S. Constitution for its weaknesses and holes, and I found the following:

The Constitution Of The United States:
Article I Section 8. [1] The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States; …

[3] To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes; …

[8] To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries; …

[18] To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

The following amendments to the U.S. Constitution should be placed into those found weaknesses and holes as strategic reinforcements in our nation’s effort to turn the tide in the Economic World War.

Proposed Amendment XXVIII
Re: Article I Section 8. [3]
All multinational corporations or enterprises, international corporations, transnational corporations, and micro-multinational corporations with management headquarters located in a home country outside of the United States shall be recognized as foreign Nations, and shall be required to contract an Agreement with the United States Congress before selling their goods and services in the United States or its territories.

Proposed Amendment XXIX
Re: Article I Section 8. [8]
The United States shall have one percent (1%) ownership of each and every copyright and patent issued and registered by the United States government. The ownership shall be limited to the pre-tax gross revenues generated by any and all uses of that which is protected by U.S. copyright and patent law, and all such ownership shall be without exception. All revenues earned from such ownership shall be used to fund the free public education guaranteed to citizens by law, with all revenues from patents supporting Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics education exclusively and all revenues from copyrights supporting either Arts and Humanities education or Physical Education and Health education exclusively according to the general categories that create the revenues (i.e. computer-related patents support computer science education, music copyrights support music arts education, sporting event copyrights support physical education, and so forth).


The best solution to a problem is often the simplest solution that is the most obvious solution. Both of my proposed amendments are solutions of that sort.

A wise person gains leverage in a negotiation by shrewdly bargaining his/her most valuable asset both first and last. Always, the most valuable asset is made the end prize, and it is never given away cheaply. Rather, it is that which is purchased — the Biblical “pearl of great price” (Matt. 13:45-46) for which one would sell everything he/she owns.

The United States Congress owns the constitutional right “To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations,” which means: to control access to the biggest, richest, most powerful economy in the world. Yet Congress routinely forfeits that right to the legal shenanigans of multinational corporations of every stripe, and it does so without a fight. Simply, we have allowed our senators and representatives in Congress to become saps, wimps, chumps, and dupes. Multinational corporations must look upon Americans as morons and prostitutes, because we are so easily made to heel. Quite literally, Congress has given away the store — the American people — to unfriendly powers that are intent on usurping control over the American marketplace. It is an outrage that must stop.

My proposed Amendment XXVIII (28) would dramatically change the world overnight, and then more and more so every day thereafter. The final outcome after the necessary transition would find America richer, stronger, and more economically vibrant than ever before. And every multinational corporation in the world would be humbled as a result.

“All multinational corporations or enterprises, international corporations, transnational corporations, and micro-multinational corporations … recognized as foreign Nations” by the amendment would surely fight against the amendment’s ratification with tremendous resources and all-out zeal, and would threaten terrible consequences if ratification ever occurred. But all of those corporations would quickly line up to “contract an Agreement with the United States Congress” following the amendment’s ratification, because maintaining a presence in the American marketplace is worth vastly more than whatever loss of profits might be suffered in the agreement. That is the truth. That is the gamble.

Understand this: every multinational corporation of any sort that had its management headquarters located in the United States would not be recognized as a foreign Nation, and would not “be required to contract an Agreement with the United States Congress before selling their goods and services in the United States or its territories.” Those corporations would identify the United States as their “home country” and could rightly identify themselves as American, and they would benefit from that distinction.

The first expected outcome from ratification of my proposed amendment is that more multinational corporations would choose to become American. In doing so, they could no longer dodge U.S. corporate taxes in any way, and U.S. tax revenues would therefore increase substantially. More importantly, the first expected outcome could result in more national loyalty from those corporations that choose to be American, and the national security interests of the United States would certainly be served by that increased loyalty.

The second expected outcome from ratification is that many jobs would be created for American workers, both by those corporations choosing to be American and by those corporations “required to contract an Agreement with the United States Congress before selling their goods and services in the United States or its territories.” Contract incentives rewarding the creation of permanent American jobs that are not tax subsidized would be a big part of the Agreement proposal presented by Congress to “foreign Nation” corporations. The Agreement would offer several choices, but creating permanent jobs for American workers would be clearly the advantaged choice for most corporations.

The third expected outcome follows the first two, but would supersede both in importance if Congress lived up to its oath of office, that third expected outcome being: Congress would designate select American publicly-traded corporations as U.S. National Security Corporations, and would grant those corporations extraordinary stock market protections on an ongoing basis in order to protect U.S. national security interests at all times. For example, those corporations could have their stock protected by law from all short selling, options trading, and programmed trading that is manipulative and/or hostile. Also, the legal protections could require all foreigners who own those stocks to first register with the U.S. government and then hold their stock in U.S. National Security Corporations in accounts that could be immediately and permanently frozen without recourse by the U.S. government at any time of national emergency.

The fact is: America must minimally have at all times the functioning manufacturing base that is necessary to quickly arm and defend itself in times of war, and that includes textile manufacturing for military uniforms and supplies, and every other kind of essential manufacturing that we have already allowed multinational corporations to send to China and India and other foreign countries where cheaper labor is available. America has been terribly irresponsible in creating our current predicament, and so our federal government must now be heroic in restoring our national security at every level of American society.

Know this: U.S. National Security Corporations would be prized buy-and-hold investment stocks, because those stocks would be largely immune to market gyrations due to their Congress-favored protections. Quite simply, those stocks alone could restore public trust in the U.S. stock markets, and that restored stability is desperately needed now. Frankly, to buy stock in a U.S. National Security Corporation would be to make a long-term investment in America’s future; it would be patriotic. Though no specific investment return could be guaranteed, and though the investment returns would likely be modest in most cases, it would be a near-certainty that such investments would be reliably profitable over time.

Remember, a U.S. National Security Corporation would have the U.S. government as a guaranteed customer. If the U.S. government will not commit to buying American-made products, why should its citizens? The change in national self-awareness thinking that leads to self-interest buying practices has to start with “We The People” together.

Yes, we can. Yes, we should.

For clarity regarding my proposed Amendment XXVIII (28), consider the direct parallel it has to the illegal alien issue that plagues U.S. immigration policy, especially in light of the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that corporations are people in the eyes of the law. What should the U.S. government do about an estimated 11 million people who are living in our country illegally? Deportation seems harsh in many individual cases, though to ever grant amnesty to illegal immigration practices is to reward and encourage lawlessness. So too with the U.S. government response to multinational corporations that choose to locate their home country in a foreign land in order to dodge U.S. corporate taxes: we have become gutless to act in our own long-term self-interest. Why should any multinational corporation choose to have its headquarters in America when the U.S. government does not grant it any exclusive rights and privileges in our nation’s marketplace for doing so? The illegal-alien-equivalent multinational corporation is actually given an advantage when it sells its goods and services in America, because it avoids U.S. corporate taxes without penalty, and even without any obligation to ever just pay the difference in some meaningful way. It is an outrage that must stop, and my proposed amendment would stop it all immediately.

Having the United States Congress reclaim its ownership of the constitutional right “To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations” under the definitions provided by my proposed amendment is the first step to restoring America as the world’s preeminent great nation. The second step that follows is equally monumental.

The United States Congress owns the constitutional right “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries,” which means: to create and enforce legal protections of intellectual property rights in the forms of registered copyrights and registered patents, and to resolve disputes over such matters through the workings of the U.S. Courts, including the Supreme Court of The United States if necessary. Yet the United States pays itself very meagerly for creating and enforcing such guaranteed legal protections as are derived from U.S. issued copyrights and patents — essentially, no more than very reasonable one-time registration processing fees for legal protections that the U.S. government will guarantee for decades.

What a deal, especially now — more than 224 years after the ink dried at the signing of the Constitution. Compare the technologies of the day in September 1787 to the technologies of the day today in December 2011. Just ponder this: Benjamin Franklin first proved that lightning is electricity when he flew his kite in a storm in 1752, and then invented lightning rods. The electric telegraph was invented in 1787. A whole lot has happened since. Back in 1787, music copyrights only protected against the piracy of printed sheet music, because there were no recording devices then and no broadcast mediums other than live-performance. And back in 1787, printing presses were laborious sheet-fed hand-operated machines, so printing hundreds of copies of something was printing a lot. Today, music copyrights protect against even the piracy that occurs when file sharing downloads happen in the virtual world of the Internet, and in every other imaginable case, too.

So what is fair compensation for the protections granted to intellectual property rights by U.S. copyright and patent law? Is the one-time cost of a registration filing fee fair compensation to the U.S. government for providing a lifetime-plus-50-years copyright protection that is fully guaranteed by the U.S. judicial system? Is the U.S. government being fairly compensated for the patents it protects? These are difficult questions, but mostly because maintaining a past practice always seems fair at first consideration, as in: “We have always done it this way, so why change it now?” Well, now is now, and it is way past time for a change. My claim is: U.S. government guaranteed goods and services deserve a fair compensation. The necessary justification for my proposed Amendment XXIX (29) is as simple as that.

Who pays the one percent (1%)? Understand this: “The United States shall have one percent (1%) ownership of each and every copyright and patent issued and registered by the United States government” means the U.S. automatically gets its share — it actually becomes the full owner of something — whenever a copyright or patent is issued and registered by the U.S. government, and that “something” is a 1% share of whatever is being protected. Furthermore, “The ownership shall be limited to the pre-tax gross revenues generated by any and all uses of that which is protected by U.S. copyright and patent law” means that the U.S. share does not ever first exist as taxable income for any other owner of a copyright or patent — the U.S. share is paid directly from the gross revenues to the U.S. as its share, as if the U.S. were a principal partner in a business venture. A failure to give the U.S. its rightful share of the gross revenues would be fraud and would have serious legal consequences according to both contract and criminal law.

But Know This: No one is obligated, compelled, or coerced to ever get a U.S. copyright or a U.S. patent except by a personal desire to protect their own self-interest in the best way possible to their greatest advantage. According to my proposed amendment, the cost of that protection should be granting 1% ownership to the United States of that which is being protected. If that cost is too high, then whoever created or invented a piece of intellectual property can choose of their own free will to leave that property unprotected in the American marketplace. In that case, the intellectual property could be stolen outright by someone else and reproduced for profit, and the original creator or inventor could possibly have no legal recourse whatsoever if that which was stolen was not a physical object of some sort. That means an intellectual property thief could legally buy an unprotected product, then reverse engineer it, and then manufacture and sell it for profit — and do so legally without any risk of penalty. That is the risk. That is the possible loss and forfeiture suffered by choosing to not grant the United States a 1% ownership as fair compensation for U.S. government protection of intellectual property rights in the form of a U.S. copyright or a U.S. patent.

It is important to know that there are no exceptions, even U.S. copyrights and U.S. patents held by foreigners, including foreign corporations, are subject to the requirement of granting 1% ownership to the United States. If an issued and registered U.S. copyright or U.S. patent is sold from one person/corporation to another in part or in whole, the United States still maintains its 1% ownership without change. In fact, the United States cannot sell, forfeit, or cancel its 1% ownership under any circumstance, because the United States is We The People.

The school funding portion of the proposed amendment is based in the fundamental aspect of a Biblical tithe, in that a blessing has its source. My contentions are these: 1) American education contributes to American success; 2) American schools foster American creativity; 3) American teachers deserve the opportunity to do their best work with the best resources available; 4) saying “thank you” never hurt anyone, and sometimes those words inspire greatness; and 5) my formula for revenue distribution can be trusted to withstand bureaucratic tampering. The spiritual guidance of “being blessed to be a blessing” applies — of giving back by passing forward the gift.

Not every creator and not every inventor is so spiritual and giving as I suggest, and many such people certainly hated school with every fiber of their being. Even so … even so … I too hated school. But hope must spring eternal in this one respect, despite all. Why? By my observation, we have thus far proven ourselves to be failures as a nation regarding the funding and the purpose of public education, and what I propose might be our last best chance to get it right. That is an arrogant statement, but it is wholly correct nonetheless. America simply must put public education as its highest priority if it wants to maintain itself as a great nation.

The principal awareness — the guiding light — must be this: America’s greatest natural and national resources — indeed, the very treasure of the land — are its best and brightest students, its young geniuses, those whose potentials are truly surpassing. No gold mine, no oil field, and no vastness of untapped mineral deposit compares in value to the potentials of our best young minds. Yet we throw those potentials to the feckless winds of fate as if the seeds can be counted on to sprout of their own accord no matter where they might land.

The public school funding that would be accomplished by my proposed Amendment XXIX (29), is enormous and staggering — almost beyond measure. Remember, the United States would claim one percent (1%) ownership of annual revenue numbers like these:
Dedicated to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education:
U.S. prescription sales (2008) = $291 billion
U.S. computer software industry (2010) = $240 billion
U.S. computer hardware market (2008) = $60.6 billion
U.S. chemicals industry (2010) = $700 billion

Do the math: Already almost $1.3 trillion x 1% = $13 billion
In 2007-08, there were 132,656 elementary and secondary schools in the United States (K-12 in total), 98,916 that were public schools and 33,740 that were private schools.
Rough math: $13 billion / 100,000 public schools = $130,000 per school per year for STEM education only … and we are still counting! Just consider annual mobile phone sales; and home appliance and TV sales; and automobile and truck sales; and heavy equipment sales; and military defense contract sales; and patented seed sales; and medical devices sales; and medical diagnostic equipment and surgery supply sales; and recreational vehicle, equipment, and gun sales; and … Consider that the 2010 revenues at Boeing Co. totaled $64.3 billion, and probably ever dollar of that was directly related to sales of patented products. Source:
Certainly, the per school per year funding for STEM education only will approximate at least $260,000, which will pay for five teacher salaries averaging $52,000 per year.

But those “rough math” numbers go into the stratosphere when appropriate factoring is done. For example, I will use my local public school district (Eugene School District 4J in Oregon) as a general case model. 4J has two “K-5” (6-year) elementary schools feed into one “6-8” (3-year) middle school, and two “6-8” (3-year) middle schools feed into one “9-12” (4-year) high school. Therefore, the elementary schools and the middle schools in 4J are weighted equivalents when “per student per year” factoring is done. That is: a 375-student 6-year elementary school (62.5 students per grade) equals a 375-student 3-year (125 students per grade) middle school, when the basic unit is a school. But a 1000-student 4-year (250 students per grade) high school is different. Doing the math using the 4J model to establish weighted equivalent factors finds that each elementary and middle school has a 0.723 factor and each high school has a 2.666 factor when weighted school allotments are calculated.

Therefore, if $260,000 is the per school K-12 non-weighted allotment dedicated solely to STEM education, then the weighted allotments according to the previous paragraph’s math approximate to $187,833 for each elementary and middle school and $693,000 for each high school. At the high school level, that equals eleven teaching positions dedicated solely to STEM education paying an average salary of $63,000 per year.

For various reasons, I would choose a weighted per school allotment on a national elementary/middle/high-school averaging with perhaps two distinct levels (rural/town and urban/city) over a strict per student allotment. I think “weighted per school” allotments would encourage schools of a certain size if it was done wisely, and schools of a certain size are generally thought to be better.

Also, I would allow for “banking of 10%” for up to five years to fund building improvement projects related to a particular category. For example, STEM allotments that were banked could pay for the construction or upgrading of science laboratories at our public high schools. In the 4J example, $693,000 x 10% = $69,300, and $69,300 x 5 = $346,500. I think a very fine science laboratory could be built and equipped for $346,500.

The money for public education funding generated by my proposed Amendment XXIX (29) from U.S. copyrights is not as great as that from U.S. patents in my estimation, but the amounts are still staggering. Consider these numbers:
U.S. Video Game Industry (2010) = $18.58 billion
U.S. Music Industry (2008) = $10.4 billion
U.S. Movie Industry (2010) = $10.57 billion
U.S. Book Industry (2007) = $35.69 billion
U.S. DVD Industry (recent) = $23 billion
Those numbers add up to $98.24 billion, which means a $982.4 million yearly funding for U.S. public schools if my proposed amendment were ratified.

In the realm of Arts and Humanities funding, school districts might choose to hire a specialist teacher that might be shared by several schools (for example, a band teacher). Or it could happen that the nation would elect to spend a certain portion of the funding to create Internet-based learning experiences that could be used by anyone, including homeschoolers and students who attend private schools. I think it would be wise to fund K-12 Internet-based learning experiences wherever that is reasonably possible.

Consider every bit of rerun TV programming is generating copyright-protected revenues, and so too is every TV broadcast of sporting event, including college sports, professional sports, and the Olympics, and those TV sports broadcasting contracts are enormous!

Think it all through, and do not be stupid in your thinking.

My proposal exclusively funds K-12 free public education. However, if citizens wisely kept current school-supporting taxations in place, much of those public tax monies could be redirected from funding K-12 education to funding public community college and public university education, meaning current college and university tuitions could be slashed. The implications and ramifications and outcomes and surprises hidden in my proposed Amendment XXIX (29) are enormous, and the justifications for doing what I propose are wholly fair and reasonable.

God bless America.

Steven A. Sylwester
December 12, 2011