Philadelphia Reflections

The musings of a physician who has served the community for over six decades

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Franklin Before Philadelphia

Long before he became famous, Franklin lived the first sixteen years of his life in Boston

Franklin Crown Soap

{Benjamin Franklin}
Benjamin Franklin

It's easy to make soap, but hard to make good soap. You just boil animal fat with wood ashes, and you get soft soap. Softsoap was sold by the barrel in the Colonies. Hard soap is made by adding salt to the mix, allowing it to be sold by the bar. The trick to all this is to know how long to boil it, how much ash of what kind, and how much salt. If you get it wrong it will be too soft or too hard, and if you have too much lye from the ashes, it will burn your skin when you wash with it. Most people made their own soap in the colonies, so they often got it wrong, because they didn't exactly know what they were doing. What they were doing was called Saponification, after the old Roman hill of Sapo. The legend is that burnt animal sacrifices in the Temple at the top of the hill would wash down and help the washerwomen in the river below get their clothes clean. The point of all this is that Josiah Franklin, the father of Benjamin and sixteen other children, was a candle maker and a soap boiler. Somehow he got the recipe right, particularly the part about adding salt, and made famously fine bars of soap with a crown stamped on them -- Crown soap. The formula was a strict family secret, the source of family discord when one sister let it out.

The point which needs reflection is that nobody in Franklin's family ever heard of potassium hydroxide, saponification, triglycerides or fatty acids. The process of achieving fame throughout the colonies -- for making a product everyone could make haphazardly -- must have involved a careful series of experiments with different fats, tallows and lards, with different amounts of ashes of various trees, and different amounts of salt. When you got it right it worked consistently, but it would have been necessary to make many experiments to get it right. To avoid repeating the same mistakes, it would be necessary to keep careful records. In other words, little Benjamin must have observed a great many examples of experimental chemistry which made him a chemist fit to talk with Lavoisier and Priestly on equal terms, even though he quit school after the second grade. His childhood was one long demonstration of a motto of Claude Bernard: "Experiment first, a theory later."

Benjamin Franklin: Chronology

{Ben Franklin on the cover of Time magazine}
Ben Franklin on the cover of Time magazine

January 17, 1706 Born in Boston, the thirteenth child of a candle maker; only went through 2nd Grade, Apprenticed to his brother as a printer, ran away to Philadelphia age 17.
1723 Arrived in Philadelphia penniless, readily found work as a printer.

1725-26 First trip to England. Researched printing equipment, but probably lived a riotous life.

1726-1748 Returned to Philadelphia to found his own print shop and bookstore. Wrote and printed Poor Richard's Almanack organized local tradesmen into the Junto, formed partnerships with sixty printers throughout the colonies, obtained the print business of local governments, became postmaster. Able to retire at the age of 42 by selling his business for 18 annual payments, which offered him comfort and ease for considerably longer than his life expectancy.


1751 Helped found Pennsylvania Hospital. Entered the legislature.

1751-1757 Active in legislature, rising to leadership during the French and Indian War, Pontiac's Rebellion and the uprising of the Paxtang Boys.

1754Took a noteworthy carriage trip to the Albany Conference, accompanied by fellow delegates Proprietor Penn and Isaac Norris at which he proposed unification of the thirteen colonies to fight against the French. Composed the first political cartoon "Join or Die" for that purpose. Notes for the trip on the blank pages of "Poor Richard's Almanac", now at Rosenbach Museum. The other delegates rejected the plan.

1757-1762 Second time in England. Acted as representative of both Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. After his electoral defeat, he returned to England for a total of eighteen years, suggesting hidden British sympathies may have been present.

1764-1775 Third British visit. Although unsuccessful in his lobbying, his fame as a scientist made him welcome among the famous members of the Enlightenment, like Hume, Adam Smith, Mozart. Meanwhile, the colonies became considerably more rebellious than he was. His blunder with the publication of some letters gave the British Ministry an opportunity to humiliate and disgrace him in public, probably as a warning to the mutinous New England leaders. It irreconcilably alienated Franklin, who sulked, the en packed up and joined the Continental Congress the day he arrived back home. The Masonic connection (Franklin was the Philadelphia Grand Master) is just now coming to light.


Brief but fateful return to America. Battle of Lexington and Concord Aril 19, 1775. Franklin returned to Pennsylvania Assembly on May 6,1775 after a 6-week voyage from England. His unpopular agitation for replacing the Penn Proprietors with direct Royal government had once led to his electoral defeat and the seeming end of his elective career. The defeated but determined Quaker party sent him to England to lobby against the Penn family and for the rule of Pennsylvania by the King. The Masonic connection under all this is their secret.

March, 1775-October, 1776 Decisions were made in London to put down the colonists by as much force as necessary. Meanwhile, Franklin persuaded the Continental Congress they must declare independence from England if they expected help from the French.

July 4, 1776, Independence is declared within days after the arrival of a massive British fleet in New York harbor. Franklin dispatched to France to secure the assistance he was confident he could get.

1777-1785 France. Franklin served admirably as American ambassador, his wit and charm persuading the French to overextend themselves with ships, supplies, and money, and very likely contributing to the French Revolution by popularizing the American one.

1785-1790 Returning as a national hero for his final five years of life, Franklin loaned his personal influence to the constitutional convention, became President of Pennsylvania, worked for the abolition of slavery.

April 17, 1790 Died, probably of complications associated with kidney stones.

The Origin of States : Articles of Confederation: Land Aspirations of Virginia 2331 : Blog 2331 :

Why was Virginia so obsessed with Independence and states rights? Why was the first, largest and richest colony starting the French and Indian war? Why was Washington, married to the richest woman in Virginia, a rebel, for Heaven's sake? Indeed, what was Franklin all about?

{Pearls on the String}
French Indian War

Almost alone among the British colonies in America, Pennsylvania's western border was specified in the King's charter of akthe colony. It was "five degrees longitude west of the point where the eastern boundary crosses the Delaware" [River]; however, its actual location on the ground was not actually marked until 1784. It's a few miles west of the present city of Pittsburgh, located at the forks of the Ohio River, where the oand Monongahela Rivers join. However, until 1784 it was not a certainty that this complex was within Pennsylvania instead of Virginia. The origin of Ohio is at the only major water gap in the North-South mountains, and the tributary rivers are fairly large. The three merging rivers thus form a nearly continuous water route along the base of the mountain range, from the Great Lakes south to Pittsburgh, or from the Chesapeake Bay north to Pittsburgh, and then to the Mississippi, going past the best topsoil farming land in the world. The forks of Ohio were the great prize of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth centuries, the place where young George Washington himself started the French and Indian War. To include these treasures, it seems vaguely possible that William Penn insisted on having the border of his state safely include the water gap at the beginning of Ohio. Perhaps not, of course, perhaps it was just a sense of tidiness on the part of the ministers of Charles II. The original document stated that the border was a hundred miles east of there, to match where Maryland ended. When the document was returned to Penn by the King's ministers, however, it had the new language.

{Pearls on the String}
Articles of Confederation

The existence of this north-south termination of Pennsylvania began to take on a new significance when other states made claims for their land grant to extend to the Pacific Ocean, and the extensions collided with each other. Virginia then developed its territory to include modern Kentucky and West Virginia. That resulted in Virginia's land aspirations veering northward, to include the Ohio Territory west of Pennsylvania's fixed boundary. By the legal standards of the day, Virginia had a fairly good claim to all of the Indian territories, not merely to the west of Pennsylvania, but extending at least to the Great Lakes, perhaps farther. Maryland, Connecticut, New York, and Massachusetts had conflicting claims from an infinite extension of their western boundaries. As a consequence, it was impossible to achieve ratification of the Articles of Confederation for five years. The various states involved were fearful of the creation of a combined political entity might result in a court which would be enabled to rule against their individual aspirations. The stakes were high; the land mass involved would be several times as large as England.

The person who finally broke this deadlock might well have been Robert Morris, who was disturbed that this inter-state dissension was injuring his ability to borrow foreign funds for the Revolutionary War. The internal negotiations took place under wartime conditions, and are poorly researched. No doubt some person deserves credit for bringing this wrangle to a close. Virginia had the strongest claim, New York the weakest. New York gave up its claim first, Maryland was the last, and Virginia the most disappointed. Pennsylvania, unable to make a claim, took the position that the land belonged to everyone, and eventually was mollified by getting a small notch of land extending to the Great Lakes at Erie. It must be noticed in passing that final resolution of the land claims came at the Treaty of Paris ending the Revolution. Benjamin Franklin, soon to become President of Pennsylvania, was the negotiator of the treaty which reflected Pennsylvania's position that the land belonged to all of us, right?

{Pearls on the String}
Westsylvania Map

Even without these western land claims, Virginia was the largest and richest of the colonies, and rather easily adopted the attitude that Virginia would be the leader of the new United States. From their viewpoint, the preservation of states rights would enhance Virginia's leading the country. More or less immediately, the attitude of small states like Delaware hardened into resistance that this must not happen. Much otherwise inexplicable behavior also begins to make a sort of sense: the perverse behavior of the Lee family in the Continental Congress, the quarrels within George Washington's cabinet, the relocation of the capital and the dreams of the Potomac as the nation's main portal of transportation, the rise of Jefferson's political party, the obstructionist behavior of Patrick Henry, the Virginia domination of the Presidency for decades, and countless less famous episodes of history -- make more sense as residuals of Virginia's early land aspirations, than as defenses of slavery or philosophical convictions that states were somehow superior to nations. These suspicions are difficult to clarify and impossible to prove. The best way to see some substance to them is to imagine yourself in the Virginia House of Burgesses, politically connected and vigorous, able to imagine your descendants all inheriting a county or two of rich land as a remote consequence of a few glamorous deeds by their Cavalier ancestor.

Boundaries of the Grant of Pennsylvania

Benjamin Franklin: Reference Page


Benjamin Franklin: An American Life: By Walter Isaacson (Author)Amazon
Benjamin Franklin: Some Account of the Pennsylvania Hospital: By Benjamin Franklin (Author), I. Bernard Cohen (Introduction)Amazon
Benjamin Franklin: By Carl Van Doren (Author)Amazon
Benjamin Franklin: By Edmund S. Morgan (Author)Amazon
Benjamin Franklin's Numbers: An Unsung Mathematical Odyssey First Edition: By Paul C. Pasles (Author)Amazon
The Invention of Air: By Steven Johnson (Author)Amazon
A Medical History of Benjamin Franklin: By by Benjamin S. Abeshouse (Author)Amazon
A Study of History, Vol. 1: Abridgement of Volumes I-VI: By Arnold J. Toynbee (Author)Amazon
Young Benjamin Franklin: The Birth of Ingenuity: By Nick Bunker (Author)Amazon

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Daniel Boone and the Whiskey Rebellion

If you go to Pottstown, Pennsylvania, you will be shown a house purporting to show the birthplace of Daniel Boone, and if you go to North Carolina you will also find they claim him. Less controversially, he did lead a contingent of settlers to Boonesboro (Kentucky), eventually establishing the first state after the original thirteen. The colonists who hankered after real estate to sell, notably First President George Washington, hankered after this land and it is said to have been the real cause of the Whiskey Rebellion. In any event, Daniel Boone was unpopular in some circles. Then as now, it was the custom to blacken the name of those you dislike, so the current issue is why Boone has returned to favor. It was apparently guano.

The story has it that whalers in the South Pacific had discovered that the combination of long periods without rainfall and long flights of migrating birds over centuries had distilled a thickness of nitrogen-rich crust to otherwise barren South Sea islands, giving them attractiveness to whalers who kept the secret but started lots of Latin American revolutions. It makes an interesting alternative to the whiskey version of affairs in Western Pennsylvania, and the Parson Weems School of history tales, which can be neither verified nor entirely eradicated. The new version features fertilizer on rocky islands, supplying nitrogen to the nitrogen-starved Appalachians, in turn making the Indians reluctant to sell the newly fertilized land. It leads to a century of small-bore American empire-building written by the great-grandson of the German chemist who put an end to it by devising a method of extracting nitrogen from gaseous air, Daniel Immerwahr. The story of Daniel Boone is now somewhat stretched to lead into a series of interesting conjectures about the coming collision between a handful of advanced nations, warring against billions of under-developed natives who envy and surround them. While Immerwahr stops short of predicting victory for the under-developed hordes, he effectively describes their resources and power, unless we rouse ourselves. There's no reason to believe it or not to believe it, and one isn't likely to appear before events prove which it is to be.

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B. Franklin, a Chronology : Blog 3770: Blog 3771: New Style Birth Blog 3770:


January 17, 1706 (New Style)--Born, the fifteenth child of a Boston candle-maker, Josiah Franklin, and seventh child of his second wife, Abiah Folger Franklin. TWO died early.

Brief acquaintance with school. A rebellious pupil.

Finished second grade, 1715 ,--Ended his formal education.

Apprenticed to his brother James the printer, 1717---They didn't get along. James published New England Courant Franklin, took over when James got jailed for contempt. When James returned, Ben rebelled and escaped to Philadelphia.


Arrived in Philadelphia 1723 --More or less penniless. Soon built a reputation as a strong swimmer, and diligent workman.

Met Governor Keith, who promised (but later failed) to purchase printing equipment in England.

1741, invented Franklin Stove.


First trip to England. 1724 ,--fathered an illegitimate son, unknown mother.


Returned to Philadelphia ,(?) 1725. ,--found that Deborah Reed had married John Rogers, who disappeared after stealing a slave. Built a thriving printing company, with sixty or more partners, as a sort of franchise business. In his spare time, founded the Junto, the First Fire Company, the second fire insurance company, lived with Deborah Reed in a common law arrangement. Had previously had an affair with an unknown woman, resulting in the birth of illegitimate son William.

Another son, Franky, born, died at age four of smallpox (1736) after Franklin had refused to have him vaccinated. One daughter, Sally. Founded Library Company of Philadelphia.

Became a hero of King George's War . 1730 ,--but aroused the jealousies of Thomas Penn the Proprietor, by raising ten thousand armed troops with one newspaper ad.

Published Poor Richard's Almanack, currency of New Jersey, Philadelphia Zeitung, .

--Became a favorite of Andrew Hamilton after writing favorably about Peter Zenger case (1735).

Began serious studies of electricity.

Founded University of Pennsylvania--1749,--later had a falling-out about teaching "practical" subjects, and not a divinity school, essentially a town and gown dispute.

Founded Pennsylvania Hospital with Dr. Thomas Bond--1751

Co-signed General Braddock's purchase of wagons and horses because farmers distrusted British. When all were lost in the defeat (1755), he was almost bankrupted as British dithered about repaying him, but eventually did so.

1748, Retired from business at age 42, with eighteen years of pension. Learned to be a gentleman, entered legislative politics, founded the Pennsylvania Hospital, became chairman of Quaker party when the second generation of Penn Family became Episcopalians. Appointed representative of Pennsylvania and sent to England to demand that Pennsylvania become a crown colony in order to be defended against Indians and Catholics.

In 1754, appointed Delegate to Albany Conference.


Second trip to England. 1757 ,--discovered the Gulf Stream, and the nature of hurricanes while a passenger. Settled down as ambassador, bought Craven Street house (now a few feet from Piccadilly), and enjoyed enormous success with important politicians, scientists, and authors, like Voltaire, Priestley, King George, Frederick the Great, Mozart and Beethoven, Lavoisier, and many others. Perfected the theory of electricity after a trip to see the torpedo fish off the coast of France. Eventually spent eighteen years as a retired rich gentleman, in England. Actively involved in Whig politics in Parliament. Throughout, showed himself to be strongly pro-British, continuing to advocate principles of Albany Conference. Following an uproar about lightning rods on St. Paul 's Cathedral, actively antagonized King George iii, who probably urged Wedderburn the Solicitor to excoriate him while he stood in silence in the Cockpit at Whitehall. After a period of depression, Franklin escaped back to America, barely in time to avoid arrest.


Arrived in Philadelphia, and two days later was made a delegate to the Continental Congress, urging war with England.

July 4, 1776,--authored Declaration of Independence with Thos. Jefferson.

Cornwallis surrenders at Yorktown, 1781. In 1783, appointed to negotiate peace with England along with John Jay, John Adams, and Henry Laurens.


Made Ambassador to France, 1783 --Charged with making France our ally in the revolution, and obtaining large grants of funds and gunpowder.

During his long stay in France, he affected the "Poor Richard" pose for French Society, and was spectacularly effective with the King and Prime Minister. Eventually, had the pleasure of negotiating the Treaty of Paris, ending the war and establishing the nation, while proudly wearing the same blue suit he wore at Wedderburn's earlier performance..


On return to America, 1785 ,--was greeted with universal acclaim, and eventually became the oldest Delegate to the Constitutional Convention, in 1789. The details of the debate were bitterly contested and secret, but it is known he suggested the tie-breaker of a bicameral legislature with two senators for each state, but multiple representatives by proportion to population. The issue was defined by John Dickinson, but the solution was Franklin's. The American Constitution has since outlived all other written Constitutions in history.

Died, April 17, 1790--Buried in Christ Church Cemetery, after a celebrated funeral parade. The President of Pennsylvania. Blog 3770: Death 3770:

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In Yale University's first Volume of an 80-Volume set of Franklin's collected works is found a 24-page summary of his known genealogy, with the editor's comment that it is limited to certain branches in certain ways. His father had two wives, and Benjamin was the thirteenth of fourteen children of Josiah Franklin. No attempt is made to equal that here, except for two comments.

The first comment is that Josiah's generation, or the one before that, changed its name from Franklyn to Franklin. Before that, Franklyne, and before that further, Francklyne. Aside from generalities of shortening, we have little idea of why or by which generation a change was made. It has been said that the greatest influence on Ben came from his uncle of exactly the same name, often referred to as Benjmin Franklin the Elder.

The second comment is that just to list all of the legitimate relatives would consume a full page of last names. Adding the descendants of Ben's four illegitimate children would simply overwhelm all interest. If you think you may possibly be related to Ben Franklin, you probably are.

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Benjamin Franklin was appointed Deputy Postmaster General by the the King or his representative in xxxxx, while he was still an active printer and needed the money. He kept the title after retirement for unknown reasons, possibly his involvement in the designation of Postal roads, possibly for the honor of the thing, possibly relating to his sale of the printing business. He had cleaned up the mess of politics revolving around corruption in roads designation, and was juatly famous for it.

In the immediate uproar after his return to America from the St. Pauls Cathedral episode, Franklin rejoined the committee considerating, among other matters, the appointment of a Postmaster General. The committee unanimously endorsed the role and the appointment of Franklin to fill it. Franklin accepted, and the Post Office started its move toward independence, since the Continental Congress enjoyed the symbolism. It was made semi-independent in the Constitution, as the reader will recall that Franklin was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention thirteen years later. (The post office became a cabinet position during the Franklin Roosevelt tenure, and assumed regulatory independence later. The Trump administration wanted to shrink the indebted agency and return it to ordinary Executive branch control, so politics goes onward. It's hard for the public to know whether ballot box delivery is the real issue or the pretext.)

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A Toast to Doctor Franklin

{Benjamin Franklin}
Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin's formal education ended with the second grade, but he must now be acknowledged as one of the most erudite men of his age. He liked to be called Doctor Franklin, although he had no medical training. He was given an honorary degree of Master of Arts by Harvard and Yale, and honorary doctorates by St.Andrew and Oxford. It is unfortunate that in our day, an honorary degree has degraded to something colleges give to wealthy alumni, or visiting politicians, or some celebrity who will fill the seats at an otherwise boring commencement ceremony. In Franklin's day, an honorary degree was awarded for significant achievements. It was far more prestigious than an earned degree, which merely signified adequate preparation for potential later achievement.

And then, there is another subtlety of academic jostling. Physicians generally want to be addressed as Doctor, as a way of emphasizing that theirs is the older of the two learned professions. A good many PhDs respond by rejecting the title, as a way of sniffing they have no need to be impostors. In England, moreover, surgeons deliberately renounce the title, for reasons they will have to explain themselves. Franklin turned this credential foolishness on its head. Having gone no further than the second grade, he invented bifocal glasses. He invented the rubber catheter. He founded the first hospital in the country, the Pennsylvania Hospital, and he donated the books for it to create the first medical library in the country. Until the Civil war, that particular library was the largest medical library in America. Franklin wrote extensively about gout, the causes of lead poisoning and the origins of the common cold. By inventing bar soap, it could be claimed he saved more lives from the infectious disease than antibiotics have. It would be hard to find anyone with either an M.D. degree or a Ph.D. degree, then or now, who displayed such impressive scientific medical credentials, without earning -- any credentials at all.

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Franklin And the Nation He Created.

The Franklin family (originally Francklyne of Ecton in Northumberland, England) were prosperous and well-connected silk dyers, on the wrong side of history. Whether it was the English Civil War, the plague, the fire, the famine, or something else, they decided to emigrate to Boston. Once there, they were reduced to poverty by the refusal of the locals to accept their money. They survived on sister Jane's invention of bar soap (soft soap treated with salt.) Whether this implanted respect for innovation in Benjamin's mind is unknown.

An older brother had learned printing as a profession, and so Benjamin apprenticed himself to James to follow his example. Both were skalawag hippies, annoying the authorities with satire in the New England Courier under the pen name of "Silence Dogood. " Although James wrote some, Benjamin did write most, and the authorities were not pleased. So, although Ben claimed to be mistreated by James, scholars have since discovered that Benjamin was fleeing to Philadelphia to escape possible arrest. Although he was only seventeen, perhaps he had already learned to be quiet about his past.

Arriving nearly penniless, he found Philadelphia needed a printer, and he worked his way up to retirement at the age of 42. Except for a one-year fling in London to buy a printing press, the first part of the book describes the slow, steady climb of this young printer as he gradually absorbed the functions and perfected the techniques of publisher and newspaper owner. He then expanded them into partnerships up and down the Atlantic seaboard on his deputy postmaster roads. In his spare time, he printed New Jersey's paper money and probably prospered from the currency manipulations of the various wars. He got into politics through his associations, and through the Junto of tradesmen, or the acquaintance of Andrew Hamilton and William Allen, eventually becoming the leader of the Quaker party, then their enemy. It's likely that during this period, he became the Grand Master of the local Masonic Temple and somehow became the Grand Master of the three Quaker colonies in his twenties. The scientific achievements forwarded by associations leading toward but never quite succeeding to the Grand Mastership of the Protestant world. The secrecy of the Masons covers up many associations with men of high station, and perhaps we will never know how his portrait comes to hang next to that of George Washington in the Masonic Temple across the street from Philadelphia's City Hall. The overlapping layers of Masonic secrecy are something to behold. Anyway, Franklin, who never went past second grade in school, lost an election and retired to London a hundred feet from Picadilly. A rich man, consorting with Mozart and standing before five Kings. He thought his scientific, sexual, and political careers were over -- but instead, the best parts still lay ahead.

Ball Lightning, Regular Lightning, and B. Franklin

Just about everybody knows that flying a kite in a lightning storm is too dangerous to consider, but hardly anyone appreciates the enormous scientific significance of what happened at 10th and Chestnut Street in 1752. Benjamin Franklin discovered electricity, essentially explained it, displayed its commercial value with lightning rods (but never patented or profited from them), and received the acclaim of the scientific community which would have won him a Nobel Prize if such a thing had existed then. It's true this didn't happen overnight; in many ways, he made the clinching demonstration on the shores of France. Something called the torpedo fish lives there, and Franklin gathered a group of friends holding hands in a circle, demonstrating the electric shock started with the fish and traveled around the circle. Out of this appreciative circle of scientists emerged his rightful reputation as a scientist of the first rank, soon to be the most famous American in the world.

But while millions of people had observed lightning flashes before Franklin connected one to a Leyden jar, those millions were merely content to go inside the house before it started to rain. Millions more still think of the whole episode as a quaintly stupid thing to do, without much scientific or practical value. Dangerous it was indeed, and it knocked young Franklin for a loop at another time and killed several other people who tried to repeat it. But to grasp the scientific feel of it, let's put yourself in Ben's shoes. Let's look at a probably related issue, called ball lightning.

{Ball of Lightning}
Ball of Lightning

Ball lightning is relatively uncommon, but some chronicler has calculated that about a half of one percent of the world's population has observed it. Counting from the beginning of history, that means a lot of ball lightning. Let's describe it here in the words of two Philadelphians who have actually seen it. One lady describes that she was in her kitchen on the Main Line during a thunderstorm when a big ball of light about the size of a basketball bounced through the door and sat on her stove for at least a full minute. It didn't give off much heat, didn't explode, and didn't smell bad. Although she was badly shaken emotionally, she doesn't remember anything much more. It just went away.

And another Philadelphian was on an airplane in a thunderstorm, back in the days when planes mostly flew below the clouds. A smaller blob of ball lightning appeared from nowhere and rolled down the aisle. Although no one kicked it or did anything else stupid, it created its sensation and then was gone.

A student of this matter says that although ball lightning is comparatively rare, it does occur often enough for extensive credible descriptions to exist. The size is most commonly between that of a pea and a sofa. It is not reported to give off much heat, usually but not invariably appears during a thunderstorm. Ball lightning appears to favor appearances over the ocean, and surfaced submarines seem over-represented among reporters of it. By report, the ball usually disappears with an explosion which does not sound like thunder but leaves behind a sulfurous odor. People who physically tangled with it, have been killed.

{Young Franklin and Print Press}
Young Franklin and Print Press

From the descriptions of crowds of people surrounding some of them, it seems unlikely these phenomena are merely visual hallucinations induced by lightning strikes, as has been suggested by some. And just what it would feel like to be that close to astronomical black holes, has not been reported by any survivors. Black holes are found scattered all over the universe, so there is no reason small ones couldn't appear on the Main Line, but it would seem likely they would be surrounded by a turbulent force field of some kind. Lots of other theories have been propounded, but haven't developed much scientific traction. In short, the state of ignorance about ball lightning today is about as total as about regular lightning bolts in the Eighteenth century.

So, there you are, a mysterious natural phenomenon which everybody ignores, just waiting for some amateur to get curious enough to devise a simple experiment to explain it. The remarkable thing about the discovery of electricity was not that it was a problem crying out for a solution, or a dangerous dragon needing to be slain. It was just something that everybody noticed, and everyone ignored. What was remarkable about this episode was not the nature of the phenomenon, but the unusual nature of the curiosity of a local printer named Ben.

Concessions and Agreements

{Concessions and Agreements}
Concessions and Agreements

The United States Constitution is a unique achievement, but it had significant precursors, many of which James Madison had studied at Princeton. In the days of difficult ocean travel, almost all colonies were bound by an agreement to maintain loyalty to their European owners in spite of receiving latitude to govern themselves. Charters and documents defining these roles were generally written by the owners, and the colonists could pretty much take them or leave them. In the case of New Jersey in 1664, however, a very formidable lawyer and friend of the King named William Penn was drawing up agreements to his own conditions of sale, taking care that the grant of governing authority he received was favorable. Penn's relationship to the King was unusually good, to say the least. He had more reason to be wary of nit-pickers in the King's administration, trying to anticipate every conceivable disappointment for some successor King.

For his part, Penn wanted to make colonial land attractive to re-sell to religious groups who had experienced harsh government oppression; he wanted no obstacles to his announcing there would be no religious oppression in New Jersey. He was offered the role of sub-king although he hastily rejected any such title, and needed to repeat the formalities of the Charter to define his role and reassure his settlers about that matter. Furthermore, he was dealing with the heirs of Carteret and Berkeley, active participants in North and South Carolina. So Penn's method of achieving basic rights was influenced by prior thinking in the Carolinas, as the thinking of John Locke secondarily influenced matters in Delaware and Pennsylvania. These ideas were incorporated in a New Jersey document called "Concessions and Agreements." The concepts were not wholly the ideas of William Penn, but he did write it, and it does contain many ideas that were uniquely his. Understandings about limits were set down, argued about, and agreed to. The owner risked money, the colonist risked his life. Neither would agree unless a reasonable bargain was struck in advance of any dispute. Furthermore, the main value of a colony was beginning to shift from trading rights to real estate rights. Carteret and Berkeley had not only been principals in both the Carolinas and the Jerseys but had been involved in a number of such investments in Africa and the West Indies; New Jersey was just another business deal. It was conventional for documents of this type to define the method of selection of a governor, the establishment of an assembly of colonists, and some sort of council to attend to day to day affairs. In that era, few colonists would cross the ocean without a guarantee of religious freedom, at least for their own brand of religion. Standard clauses which may sound strange in today's real estate world, were then necessary because it was a transfer of not merely land, but also the terms of government. In the case of the Quaker colonies, many of these stipulations were included in the earlier charter from the King. It seems very likely that Penn hovered around and negotiated these points which he wished to have the King agree to; and then once the land was safely his, Penn repeated and expanded these stipulations with the colonists in his Concessions and Agreements . It wasn't exactly a Constitution, but it reads a lot like the one America adopted a century later.

{Proprietors House}
Proprietors House

Quakers had suffered persecution and imprisonment, and knew exactly what they feared; on the other side, it seems likely Carteret and Berkeley were less interested. So this real estate transfer document conceded almost anything the colonists wanted and the King would stand for, couched in conciliatory phrases. For example, no settler was to be molested for his conscience, and liberty was to be for all time, and for all men and Christians. Elections, by the way, must be annual, and by secret ballot. While law and order must prevail, nevertheless no man is to be imprisoned or molested except by the agreement of twelve men of the neighborhood. On the matter of slavery, no man was to be brought to the colony in bondage, save by his own consent (that is, indentured servants were to be permitted). And in what proved to be a final irony for William Penn, there was to be no imprisonment for debt. Almost all of these innovative ideas survived into the U.S. Constitution a century later, but the most innovative idea of all was to set them all down in a freely-made agreement in writing. This was not merely how a government was organized, it defined the set of conditions under which both sides agreed it would operate.

It was, of course, more than that. It was a set of reassurances to settlers who had been in New Jersey before the English arrived that they, also, would be treated as equals. It was a real estate advertisement to the fearful religious dissenters back in England that it was safe to live here. And it was a reminder to future Kings and Parliaments that this is what they had promised.

The pity and a warning, is that the larger vision of a whole continent governed fairly by common consent may have been too grandiose for a little band of New Jersey Quakers, surrounded as they were by an uncomprehending world. All utopias are helpless when stronger neighbors reject the basic premise. However, it was the expansion of the pacifist concept to the much larger neighboring territory of Pennsylvania that proved to be just too much for such a small group of friends to manage by consensus, particularly when unbelieving immigrants began to outnumber them. But the essential parts of it certainly remained in the minds of delegates to the Constitutional Convention in 1787. When the minutes of the Constitutional Convention speak of the "New Jersey Plan", the Concessions and Agreements was what they had in mind.


Concessions and Agreements of New Jersey 1676: William Penn New Jersey State Library
Camden After the Fall: Decline and Renewal in a Post-Industrial City: Howard Gillette Jr.: ISBN-13: 978-0812219685 Amazon

The Failed Mid-Atlantic Subjugation, 1776-78

It will be a disappointment to my Philadelphia friends to find I have been forced by time to omit the details of their favorite dinner table conversation, the British occupation of Philadelphia and all its wonderful details. But a summary is that Washington lost just about every battle, but won the war of attrition. His job was to keep the Continental Army alive at Valley Forge during the Howe brothers assault, until subordinate Generals in other regions had better but similar luck, for eight years. The French assistance grew, and finally, the greatest war machine in the world just gave up and concentrated on the rest of the earth. America may have been an attractive place to conquer, but it was just too expensive.

The story includes Ben Franklin's social conquest of France, to the point of essentially bankrupting his ally. It includes the skillful British attack on Philadelphia's back door through Delaware, the majestic land victory then defeat, then victory and then defeat of Lord Cornwallis across the waist of New Jersey, the battle of Trenton and return to Washington's cold winter retreat in Morristown. It has all of the juicy details of betrayal by Benedict Arnold and Philadelphia's social elite. And it includes the details of Robert Morris, who was essentially acting President while the politicians fled to York and Lancaster, taking the Liberty Bell along with them. It includes Betsy Ross and the other common folk who survived while they subverted their conquerors. It is a grand story, but there just isn't time to tell it. It might even mention gunpowder smuggling to the battle of Trenton by The Barber of Seville, Beaumarchais the French King's watchmaker. Mozart and Beethoven and Poor Richard's French girlfriends also figure, but there just isn't time to invent a pretext for mentioning them, so we return to the Constitution and how it got to be what it is.

Declaration of Independence: Jefferson's Response to Prohibitory Act

George III seems to have been told that actions speak louder than words, and the Prohibitory Act was not meant to demonstrate a need to conciliate. Jefferson's position was about the same as a young press agent for Congress. He went on and on about why the Colonists were the offended party and were going to put up a fight. It seems very doubtful the King paid any attention to what Jefferson said at such great length.

Debt and Corruption: One of Them May Ruin Us, or Save Us

We are going without a metal gold standard, substituting 2% inflation targeting because we don't really know what else to do. And we seem to be getting away with it, although most people don't trust it. And indeed we have the shock of discovering that the Phillips curve (inflation and joblessness balance each other) doesn't work because we just can't get inflation to rise. By the way, this includes Milton Friedman, who blamed it on the Federal Reserve, but that can't be right, either. Don't listen to experts -- no one knows why this is true. I have a solution which hasn't been tried: we could use index funds as a new gold standard. They would be a real currency backing, which would flexibly respond to inflation and deflation. Come back in a century, if you want to find out how that works.

We have too much paper money. That's another way of saying the banks have thirty times as much paper money as they have hard currency (safe) reserves to back it up. We started out with banks making it two to one, two centuries ago, and gradually raised the ratio. No one knows what the right ratio should be, so we push the envelope and watch. One day, it will be too much, but it will then be too late to do anything about it. Thirty to one seems to account for most of our prosperity, but we have several billion of the world's population still living in poverty, but with atom bombs to blackmail the rest of us. So we apparently are going to inflate the bubble until it breaks. Then we will know what the right ratio should have been. Along comes Stephan Moore of the Heritage Foundation, with either the greatest trial balloon in history or else the best idea. Who cares why interest rates are so stubbornly low, just take advantage while that is the case. He suggests we take advantage of stubbornly low rates to have the federal government issue long-term bonds until interest rates rise, possibly paying off our national debts with the profits. And also bankrupting almost everyone whose survival depended on continuing low rates, and will surely oppose the move. At least, the argument may surface the reason the Phillips Curve stopped working.

Along a different line, James Madison was scared to death poor people will outnumber rich people, so in a democracy, poor people will win. They will vote themselves free college, free medical care, free wealth they didn't earn. We will then be tempted to substitute dictators for leaders, sacrificing democracy permanently to have the joys of a dictatorship temporarily. We may try everything else first, but what we need is something which will work, not demagogues, and probably not college professors, either. God help us if we start electing newspaper columnists. Even Ben Franklin learned that much.

Just remember how long we have been tinkering with bankruptcy solutions. Instead of cutting your heart out if you don't repay your creditors, we improved things somewhat by putting defaulted debtors in prison. Morris the billionaire showed George Washington how to strip all personal wealth from the defaulted debtor in exchange for extinguishing their debts; it's called bankruptcy. The banks figure out how many defaults they will have in bulk, and add that charge to the interest rate they legitimately charge substandard risk debtors and illegitimately charge a lesser amount to non-risky debtors. Unfortunately, lots of people have figured out how to cheat on their bookkeeping, and with cell phones, soon tell their friends. Just have the government bail out bad debts, and then tax the rest of the population to pay for it. It's that last step which makes it socialism. In Philadelphia, someone a century ago thought it was a good idea to have a city/county consolidation, with sheriffs sales to pay the bills. Today, hundreds of millions of dollars are skimmed off this arrangement by corrupt politicians, and the current --allegedly non-corrupt-- Mayor is running for re-election on the promise he will absorb this revenue for worthy causes, like education. In most cities in this country, this corruption goes on, because it pays off. We have had this corruption for a century, and keep electing the same people to continue it. Yes, I know we have a drugs problem, but we voted for this scam and the taxicab medallion scam. We need a few more people to get mad, but they soon turn into elected crooks, if the rest of us let experts seem to run things. Our Constitution assumes half of the public are inherently honest and the other half are inherently bad apples, seeing its job is to maintain a balance between the two.

In short, the Supreme Court could easily fix this, by fixing enforcement and penalties. Let's see if they try. Congress could also fix this, but it would be opposed by others in Congress. The overall potential might be to lower consumer and retail interest rates, because bonds average 5% return over the long run, while equities average 10% for the same risk. If stocks and bonds returned an equal amount, as they should, there should be a doubling of effect. Bonds are mostly purchased by insurance companies, forced by state insurance commissioners to limit equity purchases to 10%. Presumably, insurance commissioners are holding down the cost to the state of municipal bonds, so the cost of this subsidy is not visible. But the net effect is to have the municipal taxpayer subsidize the defaulting debtor. The tax exemption of municipal bonds is yet another feature of this subsidy, in this case drawing the federal government into the process.

Simplifying somewhat, raising the permissible insurance commissioner's permissible level of insurance company's purchase rate from 10% to 11% would double the permissible stock purchases by insurance companies. Not enough to pay off the national debt to foreigners, perhaps, but demonstrating the opportunity just waiting for a presidential candidate to exploit in his campaign.

George: 10 Randomly numbered Blog ID numbers into 20 Chapters in Two Steps

The blogs and blog IDs are presently generated by the machine as "New Blogs", and later converted to Topics. In the process, every item of text, whether a blog, a topic name or a chapter name, acquires a blog ID number. Much of the following discussion is conducted by manipulating blog IDs and then mentally converting them to Blog Names, Topic Names, and Chapter names -- without excessive description. Chapter Headings are manually generated by the author, supplied as a list (see below) to be manually replaced as needed; this process is continued wherever the material justifies it. Alternative pathways are deletions of extra steps, occasionally required by the material. To be entirely comprehensive, it is contemplated that the machine will make the selection when feasible. For the most part, the material will not cost-justify a completely automated operation. The first step, conversion of English terms to Topic Headings, is so burdensome it justifies the programming effort.

The Mechanical Process alternating with the Manual Process. The problem to be solved is to present the operator with ten Blog-ID's listed in the modified table of contents by the TF-IDF process, from which approximately 2-5 blogs are manually chosen for relevance, and the remaining blogs either made invisible or erased (or ignored). ( In this way, a set of up to ten blog numbers are selected randomly by the machine, as relevant to each Chapter heading grouping of 2-5 -- also generated manually at random times. {Out of these, two blog numbers are selected and printed, occasionally more, occasionally less, but eventually, about two are selected manually to accompany one Chapter heading.} This seemingly impossible connection is accomplished by TF-IDF selecting ten keywords as intermediary steps mechanically, and then manually selecting the (up to) 2-5 finalists. At the moment, the synthetic intermediary TF-IDF output need not be displayed, but it may have other uses.

At this First step, the manual input of Chapter headings is produced in English prose, and the Blog ID is produced by the machine. The relevant connecting step is produced by TF-IDF. The intermediate connecting number need not be printed out, at least at present. {The Blog ID is later to be converted to a list of Chapter Headings with related blog IDs but this last step is invisible, merely printed out as the random Blog IDs within Chapter headings.} The "Chapter Heading" or manually produced Topic Grouping (they are the same because all text is first entered as a Blog) is entered manually, but here reproduced as a guide, but produced in "Table of Contents" language. In a day or two, we will have constructed the two lists of two sets of outputs, each produced both manually and by machine. The assumption to be tested in two widely different subjects (A collection of Japanese Haiku 14-line poems, and a History of American Constitutional sovereignty arguments) is that the TF-IDF product and the randomly-assigned Blog IDs are substantially interchangeable, at least for this purpose.

Early "Chapter Headings": Introduction, The English Settlements 1619-1776, William Penn, Quakers Feel Their Oats, The Era of French and Indian War 1763-1776, Redirecting the Revolution Toward Independence: The British Prohibitionary Act of 1775, Subjugating the Mid-Atlantic States 1776-1778, Constitutions: What's So Good about Ours; Why Does Europe's Fail Them?; The Federalist Founders; The National Perspective; Articles of Confederation, Would They Suffice?; Architecture of a National Governance; Afterthought Amendments 1793-97; Marshall and the Third Branch of Government; The Small-Government Rebels; Ratification and Balance; Washington's Two Terms; Chaotic Rebalancing; Pre-Civil War; The Guano Approach; The Lincoln Approach; Reconstruction; The Gilded Age; That Damned Teddy Roosevelt Cowboy; Woodrow Wilson; The First World War; The Greatest Generation; Bretton Woods; The Woodstock Phenomenon; Opening Up Asia; The Third World War; American Dominance; etc.

Second Step, assuming tests of the First Step show substantially identical results between manual and automated:

There is one weak step. Without trying it, it is is not possible to judge which of two branches to take, at worst, it requires both of them. The first step assumes the Chapter Heading is the same as the Blog heading. In fact, it is only one-tenth its size and the blog quantity must be reduced by 90%, to accomplish the desired outcome. (There are about 10-20 Chapters and about a thousand Topics, so the Topics are in need of 10:1 reduction.) In one example (U.S. Constitution), TF-IDF is perhaps completely unnecessary, because the linkage between blogs and chapters is almost entirely chronological. This issue should be tested.

However, where the linkage between blog numbers and chapter headings is chronologically impossible (as in Terse Verse), some other method of linkage must be provided. One approach is to envision the process as linking three stages (blog heading, topic heading and Chapter heading), but only printing the Chapter heading. Where there is only one blog per chapter or the topic chapter heading is blank, the goal is satisfied by producing the Chapter headings from the Blog headings. Where there is more than one blog per chapter, an additional step is required. It should be remembered that the purpose of automation is the reduction of manual input, and sometimes the manual phase does not justify the cost of automation. The provision of twenty Chapter summaries might be the price of adopting this approach, although the combined blog titles might suffice for a re-run of IF-IDF if the Chapter titles are supplied. If we are lucky, the IF-IDF processing might be unnecessary.

The submission of a one-paragraph summary at this point would surely suffice, or else the multiple blog titles from IF-IDF, perhaps in the Description block.The changed goal of this approach is to reduce the eligible contestants to the point where manual completion is feasible, a ratio of at most 3 or 4 per one. As an act of desperation, completely manual Chapter Heading composition is probably feasible.

Albany Conference 1754

State and Federal Powers: Historical Review

John Dickinson of Delaware

It was expedient to leave certain phrases in the Constitution intentionally vague, but the overall design is clear enough. Just as twenty-eight sovereign European nations now struggle to form a European Union, thirteen formerly sovereign American colonies once struggled to unify for the stronger defense at a reduced cost. Intentionally or not, that created a new and unique culture, reliant on the constant shifting of power among friendly rivals. Everybody was a recent frontiersman, trusting, but suspicious. It still takes newcomers a while to get used to it.

So the primary reason for uniting thirteen colonies was for a stronger defense. As even the three Quaker colonies of New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware could see, if you are strong, others will leave you alone. In time, the unification of many inconsequential behaviors created a common culture of important ones; and in time that common culture strengthened defense. At first, it seemingly made little practical difference locally whether construction standards, legal standards, language and education standards and the like were unified or not. Except, that in the aggregate, it forged a common culture.

The practice of Medicine was certainly one of those occupations where it mattered very little whether we were a unified nation. Unification of medical care offered a few benefits, but mostly it didn't matter much, right up to 1920 or so. Even then I would offer the opinion, that unification of the several states (with consequent Free Trade) only made a big difference to health insurance, and still made little difference to the rest of medical care. In fact, there are still about fifteen states with too little population density to provide comfortable actuarial soundness for health insurance, as can readily be observed in the political behavior of their U.S. Senators. Although the number of low-population states gets smaller as the population grows, there are even so perhaps only ten big states where multiple health insurance companies can effectively compete within a single state border. Quite naturally the big-state insurers expect one day to eat up the small ones. By contrast, the nation as a whole, the gigantic population entity which Obamacare seeks to address, has far too many people spread out over far too large an area, to be confident we could unify them into one single program. Dividing the country into six or seven regions would be a much safer bet. That's the real message of the failure of the Computerized Insurance Exchanges -- far too much volume. And the coming failure of the Computerized Medical Record -- with too much complexity. With unlimited money, it can be done, because diseases are disappearing and computers are improving. But why struggle so hard?

It is at least fifteen years too early, and mostly serves the interest of insurance companies, if they can survive the experience. At the same time, we are at least fifteen years away from growing the smallest states to the point where we could decentralize. It's really a situation very similar to the one John Dickinson identified, James Madison briefly acknowledged, and where Benjamin Franklin improvised a solution. In their case, it was a bicameral legislature. In the case of medical care, it could be an administrative division of revenue from the expenditure. It could be the cure of a half-dozen chronic diseases. It could be six regional Obamacare. But creating one big national insurance company during a severe financial recession is something we will be lucky to survive.

Returning to the Constitutional Convention, an additional feature was added to the tentative 1787 document to respond to protests from small component states. They objected that whatever the big-state motives might be, small states would always be dominated by populous ones with more congressmen if a unicameral Legislature is made up of congressmen elected by the population. Pennsylvania had recently had a bad experience with a unicameral legislature. So a compromise bicameral legislature (with differing electoral composition in the two houses) was added to protect small-state freedoms from big domineering neighbors. Even after the Constitution was agreed to and signed, the states in ratifying it still insisted on a Bill of Rights, especially the Tenth Amendment, elevating certain citizen prerogatives above any form of political infringement, by any kind of a majority. These particular points were "rights"; individuals were even to be insulated from their own local state government. The larger the power of government, the less they trusted it.

John Dickinson of Delaware, the smallest state, soon made the essential point abundantly clear to a startled James Madison, when he pulled him aside in a corridor of Independence Hall, and uttered words to the effect of, "Do you want a Union, or don't you?", speaking on behalf of a coalition of small states. It was probably galling to Dickinson that Madison had never really considered the matter, and went about the Constitutional Convention airing the opinion that, of course, the big states would run things. Dickinson, who had been Governor of two states at once, had observed the effect of this attitude and wasn't going to have more of it.

{William Bingham class=}

Benjamin Franklin, who for over 40 years had been working on a plan for a union of thirteen colonies (since 1745, long ago producing the first American political cartoon for the Albany Conference), devised the compromise. It was essentially a bicameral legislature -- with undiminished relative power in the Senate for small states. In this backroom negotiation, it was pretty clear Franklin held the support of two powerful but mostly silent big-state delegates, Robert Morris and George Washington. These were the three men of whom it could be said, the Revolution would never have been won without each of them. In 1787 they were still the dominant figures in diplomacy, finance, and the military. All three were deeply committed to a workable Union, each for somewhat different reasons. Now that a workable Union was finally within sight, parochial squabbles about states rights were not going to be allowed to destroy their dream of unity.

And so it comes about, they gave us a Federal government with a few enumerated powers, ruling a collection of state governments with regional power over everything else. And since big-state/small-state squabbles are unending, almost any other solution to some problem repeatedly, seemed preferable to disturbing what holds it all together. On the other hand, the Industrial Revolution was beginning at about the same time, and people who recognized the power of larger markets almost immediately set about attacking state-dominated arrangements, systematically weakening them for a century, and redoubling the attack during the Progressive era at the end of the 19th Century. Attacks on what seemed like an abuse of state power, the power to retain slavery, and later the power to perpetuate white racism, were claimed to justify this attrition of states rights. The ghost of the Civil War hung over all these arguments, restraining those who pushed them too far.

However, the driving force was industrialization, with enlarged businesses pushing back against the confinement of single-state regulation within a market that was larger than that. This restlessness with confining boundaries was in turn driven by railroads and the telegraph, improving communication and enlarging markets, which offered new opportunities to dominate state governments, and when necessary the political power weakens them. One by one, industries found ways to escape state regulation, although the insurance industry was the most resistant, whereas local tradesmen like physicians found it more congenial to side with state and local governments. The 1929 crash and the Franklin Roosevelt New Deal greatly accelerated this dichotomy, as did the two World Wars and the Progressive movement from Teddy Roosevelt to Woodrow Wilson. The Founding Fathers were said to have got what they wanted, which was a continuous tension between two forces, supporting both large and small governments; with neither of them completely winning the battle.

Insurance Monopoly

The medical profession further evolved from a small town trade into a prosperous profession during the 20th century, but the practice of medicine remained comfortably local. Even junior faculty members who move between medical schools quickly come to realize their national attitudes are somewhat out of touch with local realities. For doctors, state licensure and state regulation remained quite adequate, and state-regulated health insurance companies paid generously. State-limited health insurance companies had a somewhat less comfortable time of it, but the ferocity of state-limited insurance lobbying, as exemplified by the McCarran Ferguson Act, perpetuated it. The medical profession watched uneasily as the growth of employer-paid insurance extended the power of large employers over health insurance companies beyond state boundaries, and thus in turn over what had been medical profession's kingdom, the hospitals. And the medical profession also had to watch increasing congeniality with big government extend through businesses, unions and universities, fueled by overhead allowances of federal research grants and finally in 1965, federal health insurance programs. Nobody likes his regulator, but national organizations inevitably prefer a single regulator to fifty different ones. Furthermore, everybody could see that health care suddenly had lots of money, and naturally, everybody wanted some.

{top quote}
There is nothing naturally inter-state about medical care -- except health insurance. {bottom quote}
It was all very well to pretend that health care was out-growing local-state regulation, but those on the inside could uneasily watch the federal/state competition for control, with the federal government repeatedly stacking the deck more in its own favor. Aside from federal program interventions, there is still nothing naturally inter-state about medical care -- except health insurance. Doctors, hospitals, and patients all tend to remain local, but insurance can easily cross state lines if regulation permits. Even in insurance, small states have difficulty maintaining actuarial stability, driving health insurance toward one-state monopolies. With a few big-state exceptions, even most health insurance companies prefer single-state monopoly status to federal regulation because it facilitates marketing. To praise the virtues of insurance competition is fine, but if sharing the local market means struggling for adequate risk reserves, nationwide regulation will inevitably lead to domination by a few big-state insurance companies. Small-state insurers would enjoy access to a national market; but blocked from it, they need to retain a local monopoly to survive. Fleeting thought might be given to Constitutional Amendment, but there are probably always going to be enough states which consider themselves small, to block the two-thirds requirement for Amendment. Imposing nationwide uniformity by force would possibly improve standards, but uniformity is increasing rather than decreasing, so the argument is not a strong one.

To be fair about it, there was not a strong case for state regulation, either. It could have been argued that uniformity and reduced administrative costs favored central regulation over-dispersed control, because of improved efficiency; and few would have argued about it. Until the ACA insurance exchanges crashed of their own weight around the ears of hapless creators, that is, unable to do what Amazon seems to do every day, and raising quite a few embarrassing recollections. Recollections of the mess the Sherman Antitrust Act inflicted on local medical charity in Maricopa County, Arizona. Recollections of the "Spruce Goose" airplane that Howard Hughes made so big it couldn't fly. Recollections of the gigantic traffic jam strangling the District of Columbia every weekend. And, reminders that 2500 pages of legislation remain to be converted into 20,000 pages of regulations which it would take a lifetime to understand. Suddenly, let's face it, retaining state regulation of health care, or not rocking the boat, gets a lot better press. It might even work better than the national kind, especially in an environment where no one expected a perfect solution, and just about everyone had heard of the Curse of Bigness. When we first discovered that use of health insurance added 10% to the cost of health care, it had seemed like an easy place to extract 2% of the Gross Domestic Product for better things, just by streamlining administration. But after the health exchange fiasco, some people begin to wonder if 10% is just what it costs to use insurance to pay for healthcare. If that is the case, perhaps we should look at other ways of paying our bills, not just a different regulator. Nobody would pay 10% just to have his bills paid, if he understood what he was doing.

Forming the State of Delaware

{Philip Yorke 1st Earl of Hardwicke}
Philip Yorke, Earl of Hardwicke

When the Duke of York was within hours of being banished, he told his agent Sir John Werden to give the contested strip (now the state of Delaware) to Penn, but save out the town of Newcastle with a twelve-mile strip of land around it. Werden wrote that into the charter with a proviso based on the idea that the fortieth parallel was to the south of Newcastle, when in fact it was fifty miles north of it, and could not possibly conform to the stated boundaries. Both Penn and Baltimore learned the true situation in a year or two, and both attacked the other for dissembling ignorance, each seeking to take advantage of implausible arguments. What in fact they both discovered was that if the dividing line could be pushed a few miles south, Penn would acquire the mouth of the Susquehanna in the Chesapeake Bay, while if it went north a few miles, Maryland would acquire most of Philadelphia. Lord Hardwicke worked out a reasonable compromise which, while ignoring some plain language in the documents, eventually resulted in the Mason-Dixon line which is now reasonably comfortable for everybody, although first subjected to another two decades of wrangle.

{Delaware Wedge}
Delaware Wedge

Even part of the eventual compromise, a semicircular northern border, didn't come out right, resulting in a wedge of no-man's land. Landowners didn't enjoy paying disputed taxes, so they held up the settlement of the wrangle into the Twentieth Century. Eventually, the U.S. Supreme Court cut the wedge into two pieces, giving one piece each to Pennsylvania and Delaware. Meanwhile, disputes continued which had their basis in the way the semi-circular line was plotted out on the land. The surveyors ran 120 straight-line radii outward from the courthouse tower in Newcastle, and then connected the ends. Obviously, that resulted in 120 straight chords instead of a smooth semi-circle, and a couple of bulges had to be accommodated where the circle grazed other straight borders. The semi-circle crossed the Delaware River, so New Jersey helpfully abandoned its portion, only to regret its decision later when toll bridges were constructed, and ship channels deepened.

{King Charles I}
King Charles I

Two major societal changes took place between 1632 -- when Charles I granted the proprietorship of Maryland to the first Lord Baltimore -- and 1776 when all American real estate changed its rules. The first change was that the Delaware Bay morphed from a swamp into settlements of people; settlers came into possession. The second evolution was to the current view that if you sell some real estate it is no longer yours; in earlier eras, everything belonged to the king, who could take it away and give it to others as often as he pleased. In legal terms, the last king had the last word. Although acres of parchment were scribbled by lawyers pro and con, these considerations are what make clear how Lord Baltimore could hold the unchallenged legal title for fifty years to everything up to the fortieth parallel, but then have a court take away thousands of square miles. A land which was to become the three lower counties of Pennsylvania was given to William Penn by the Duke of York in 1682, using some flawed documents and only fully enjoyed by Penn's heirs for six years until they morphed into the new State of Delaware. From 1684 to 1769, legal ownership was a matter of continuing dispute. The exasperated Lord Chancellor (Hardwicke) in 1750 declared the case as one "of nature worthy of the judicature of a Roman senate rather than of a single judge".

{Lord Baltimore}
Lord Baltimore

Lord Baltimore had been given "unsettled" land, occupied only by savages. William Penn's lawyers struggled to prove the Dutch had settled the area before 1632, while Baltimore's lawyers sought to prove that pirates and wandering fur traders don't count, nor do villages of thirty people who were wiped out by the Indians. By the Doctrine of Discovery, taking land from pagans was encouraged, but taking land from Christians required special formalities. Since this Doctrine dates back before there were Protestants, it might have been pertinent to inquire whether the Dutch should be regarded as pagans, as the Spanish surely did when they suppressed Dutch independence in the Eighty Years War, ending in 1648.

Lord Baltimore advertised land along Delaware for sale to settlers while the matter was still under litigation. That was the foulest play said Penn, a weak argument to make if litigation was intentionally pursued for a century.

Maryland favored the Catholic cause, so it seemed plausible for them to want to stall, hoping the Catholic Duke of York would ascend to the throne. Under the new King James II, however, Baltimore seemed unlikely to prevail that the same person, as Duke of York, really didn't own the land he was trying to give to William Penn. So of course, Lord Baltimore claimed he never stalled.

{Cape Henlopen}
Cape Henlopen

And by the way, ocean currents moved Cape Henlopen a mile or so southward, but the real boundary problem was that common usage over the centuries confused Cape Henlopen with Fenwick's Island (to which it is usually attached by a thin barrier island), making an implicit difference in the Maryland/Delaware ownership of the corresponding strip of land at the southern border of the State of Delaware, a matter of a hundred or so square miles.

And all of this confusion was merely about the borders of one of the smallest of our fifty states. The political manner in which Delaware became a colony without a charter to the King, and became a state by gradual and mystifying degrees separate from the other counties of Pennsylvania are other complicated stories. Never mind the reasons Delaware remained in the Union during the Civil War, even though it also remained a slave state.

With gratitude to the memory of Dudley Cammett Lunt 1896-1981, whose books are a most readable but scholarly analysis of this complicated history. In particular, The Bounds of Delaware and, for the Mason-Dixon Line, Taylor's Gut in the Delaware State are recommended. The courts rejected arguments that the land was essentially wilderness when Lord Baltimore acquired his patent, and history has been sympathetic to Penn, the winner. The contention was the Dutch owned the land by right of discovery ( a Doctrine applied to land ruled by pagans by Pope Nicholas II in 1454), while the Duke of York later took it from the Dutch by surrender to force of arms -- another legally benign method of acquiring sovereignty. However, Lunt points out that a far more significant issue was the southern border of Pennsylvania in Penn's original grant, which asserted geographical impossibility to replace Maryland's plain and simply defined boundary. History has tended to regard this as understandable error, and subsequent legal quarrels to have been perpetuated by William Penn's greedy heirs. However, Lunt seems to reveal his own opinion of the affair by ending his book with a July 31, 1683 quotation from a letter by William Penn to Colonel Thomas Tailleur:

I, finding this place necessary to my Province and it ye Presence of Ld. Balt. was at Law, civil & common, I endeavoured to get it, & have it, & will keep it if I can.


CONTENTS: this is the main body of text

another paragraph

C13.............Balance at Last

CONTENTS: this is main body of text

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Annotated Table of Contents

CHAPTER ONE: Where Are We, And How Did We Get There?

--- Teddy Roosevelt started it, but politicians have shorter memories than historians. For practical purposes, Obamacare 2012 is an extension of the Clinton health proposal of 1991, with HMOs deleted, and computers added. It is useful to conjecture Bill Clinton's strategy, which would explain much of the present muddle. If Hillary runs, we could even see it tried for the third time.

2589 Clintoncare and Obamacare: Historical Foreword

1729 Picking Out the Raisins From the Pudding

2670 Welcome to Welfare

1714 Reforming Health Reform, New Jersey Style

2622 Children, Playing With Matches

2602 Text of AFFORDABLE CARE ACT, PL 111-148, March 23, 2010, Renamed HR 3590

2594 The Real Obamacare, Unveiled

2672 Text of Section 1501, renamed Section 5000A: MINIMUM COVERAGE

2639 Text of Section 1251 (H.R. 3590):PRESERVATION OF RIGHT

TO MAINTAIN EXISTING COVERAGE 2673 Proposal: Coordinate Sections 1501 and 1251

2676 Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010

CHAPTER TWO: The Supreme Court Has Its Say

--- The U.S. Supreme Court had nursed certain Constitutional issues since Franklin Roosevelt's court-packing days, but it was state Attorney Generals who propelled States' Rights into the central Constitutional issue of the first few days of Obamacare. Liberal academics have long flirted with remaking the whole Constitution, and President Obama once taught Constitutional Law. While extreme Liberals nurse Constitutional revision, most Liberal politicians would prefer to split Republican voters with a third party. It is too early to predict which party would suffer.

2624 State and Federal Powers: Historical Review 2250 Obamacare's Constitutionality

2289 Roberts the Second

2592 More Work for the U.S. Supreme Court: Revisit Maricopa

2625 What Can Supreme Court(s) Do About Tort Reform?

2613 ERISA Is Thrust Into the Battle

CHAPTER THREE: Sudden Fiasco Of Electronic Insurance

----At first, it seemed a minor programming problem had temporarily inconvenienced the Electronic Insurance Exchanges. The realization soon emerged that the whole program was sloppy and untested, requiring months of repair, if not the abandonment of Obamacare. If direct marketing gets discredited, it would be a pity. The underlying idea was good and achievable. But this implementation was a disaster.

1288 Money Bags

2603 Electronic Insurance Exchanges

2626 Streamline Health Insurance?

2604 Redesigning Electronic Insurance Exchanges

2611 Phasing In A Direct Premium Payment

2615 Creative Destruction for Health Insurance Companies

CHAPTER FOUR: Small, Quick Proposals to Extend Health Savings Accounts

----Here's our alternative proposal, first devised by John McClaughry and George Ross Fisher in 1980, enacted into Law in 19xx by Bill Archer, and now numbers more clients than Obamacare. It requires publicity more than legislation, but six small technical amendments could rapidly turn an experiment into a national program. It seems to save as much as 30% of premiums, without much disturbance of the healthcare delivery system.

2637 FIRST PROPOSAL, Amending HSAs To Include Tax Sheltering

2573 SECOND PROPOSAL:Spending Accounts into Savings Accounts

2611 THIRD : Phasing In Direct Premium Payments

2584 FOURTH: Investments Pay the Bill: Obstetrics Lengthens Duration, Deductible Reserve is the Kernel.

2607 FIFTH: Having Invested, How Do You Reimburse the Providers of Care?

2630 SIXTH: Indemnity and Service Benefits

2585 Foreword: Children Playing With Matches: Investigating and Debating the Healthcare System 09 2636 2606

CHAPTER FIVE: HSAs, Backwards and Forwards

----The above describes the HSA and how it might be more useful if tweaked a little. This next chapter is a much more grandiose version, expanding the simple idea into a proposal for lifetime health insurance and describing the enormous unsuspected potential. Ninety-year projections are never accurate and require many mid-course corrections. We propose a new institution to monitor and steer it and attempt to describe what might be encountered. The power of compound interest could well pay for most of healthcare, but it is unnecessary to over-reach. Paying for a third of our costs would be accomplishment enough.

2590 Health Insurance Design.

2638 Pay As You Go

2587 Predictions of Future Healthcare Costs: Quis Custodiat Ipsos Custodes?

2628 Average Lifetime Medicare Balance Sheet

2627 Shifting Money Backward in Time: Managing the Transition

2593 Economics of Chronic Disease and Catastrophic Illness

2634 Comments on Diagnosis Related Groups (DRG)

2635 Admonitions: Using the Transition to Lifetime Health Insurance as an Inflation Restraint

2473 An Unending Capacity to Generate New Problems

1734 Healthcare Reform for Lobbyists

2485 Cost Shifting, Reconsidered

2571 Proposed: A Republican and/or Conservative Healthcare Solution


CHAPTER SIX; Reforms More Basic Than Obamacare

----Obamacare is just coverage extension by subsidies. The biggest flaws in our payment system are fifty years old and are the cause of most of the delivery system flaws. Meanwhile, Science is reducing disease costs by reducing disease, for all income brackets. By switching "medical" care into "health" care we keep authorizing new carpetbaggers to bill the insurance. Physicians received 20% of payments in 1980; now it is 7%, half of which is spent on overhead. Nevertheless, compound interest income could reduce costs greatly without changing healthcare. Lifetime insurance (above) could pay for about a third of future costs; direct cost efficiencies could probably save another third, leaving a third to be paid in cash. But don't make it entirely free, unless you want to make it entirely ruined.

2633 Stepping out of the Obamacare Frame

1730 What Obamacare Should Say But Doesn't

2616 The Coonskin Hat

2404 "They Don't Make That, Anymore"

2564 Last Cow in Philadelphia

2112 Paying for Assisted Living

1431 July 4, 1776: Patients in the Pennsylvania Hospital on Independence Day

1733 Obamacare And Its Repair, Executive Summary

2453 What's The Matter With a Conservative Answer?

.................Constitutions: So What's So Good About Ours; Why Do Europe's Fail?

First of all, let's compare Philadelphia's Constitutional beginnings with Boston's. Philadelphia had a Constitution which grew out of the Revolution, which was forced upon us by Admiral Howe's punishing attack by a huge British fleet. Philadelphia was dominantly a Quaker pacifist city. Annoyed by British mercantilism it may have been, but it was far from completely hostile to the mother country. Boston, by contrast, could have been described as starting the war. It had the Boston tea party, the Boston massacre, and the hidden gunpowder before the British tried to restore order. Boston and Philadelphia both had grievances, but nobody challenges the statement that the colonists (and the smugglers) started the war which led to the Constitution, just as French revolutionaries attacked the French aristocracy, first. Boston and Paris started their wars, Philadelphia was attacked. Furthermore, Philadelphia was pacifist Quaker, and gave up political power rather than resist. Boston quickly gave up "Taxation without representation" in order to fight for Independence with allies; Philadelphia was still filled with Tory sympathizers after the war was over.

But although Philadelphia agonized about Independence, they took it seriously once they adopted the goal. Even decades later, they endured a Civil war for the Union, while Boston sent us Abolitionists to stir up trouble for the South. On a smaller scale, during the War of 1812 it was New England that hoped to invade Canada, while Philadelphia was harboring the French and building French buildings. Our Constitution has endured for over two centuries with only minor amendments. By contrast, the European Republics seems about to fail after uniting many small states into one big one. We have much the same heredity. Whatever needs to be changed, by Europeans, before someone gets blown up?

The first thing to acknowledge is that America's Constitution may be the unusual one, having survived longest. Other Constitutions backslid after a few years. No doubt we wanted success more; we worked harder at it. At first, we were very suspicious of any unification of nations at all, as eloquently proclaimed by Patrick Henry, the Lees and Mason. But John Dickinson also wasn't sure it was a good idea at first either, Ben Franklin was a dedicated Englishman right up to the edge of the Revolution, and the Penman of the Constitution, Gouverneur Morris, disavowed his own product during the War of 1812. James Madison the Virginia scholar of constitutions based his premise on the intrinsic evil of everyone, in the phrase. "If all men were angels, there would be no need of Constitutions." The idea behind having a Revolution was Patrick Henry's declaration, "Give me Liberty or give me death." He distrusted all centralized rule and rulers. Not only was George III corrupt, but most men in power soon became that way. All governments were evil, and the evidence seemed abundant. George Washington devised the best reply he could find. Over and over, he repeated his sorrowful experience, "If you are strong, people leave you alone." Unify, or die. Since Washington had led a revolution against Kings overcoming almost hopeless odds, he was offered anything he wanted and refused to take it. It was hard to believe he wasn't sincere. Furthermore, he was a rich slave-holder. He knew he must lead because no one else had the credentials to be trusted by both North and South. The largest colony was Virginia, which gallantly fought the war but almost drew back from the Constitution. Perhaps all this hesitancy and reluctance was the secret of our success. Perhaps we expected little to come of it unless we were vigilant. So we were vigilant. Our Constitution holds together because it is a permanent balance between those who want to go ahead and those who like what they have, and we can always change either one before they do much damage, but we can keep them long enough to gain a little.

Robert Morris was as rich as they come, too, so he could be trusted by movers and shakers. He knew his countrymen, back from the days when they almost killed him in the Battle of Wilson's House on Third Street, near the Quaker Meeting at Fourth and Arch, no less. He knew you didn't win wars without gunpowder, so the way to remain strong was to find a way to force, trick or bribe the component states to pay their taxes. At the Constitutional Convention, he talked more than anyone, said hardly anything once he got a workable system, and then almost didn't sign it until he was convinced it would work. Even after the document was ratified, Ben Franklin who had risen from poverty three separate times to be one of the richest men in town, who had been both the author of the most significant features of the Constitutional product and the author of its most significant compromises, has been revealed as a doubter even after giving it his best, commenting to Mrs Powell that it was, "A republic, if you can keep it." He had proposed a Union at the Albany Conference in 1745, but after forty-four years he still wasn't sure it would work. Without these four men and their friends, it probably wouldn't have. And then there was John Dickinson, Governor of Pennsylvania and Delaware simultaneously, who pulled James Madison aside in Independence Hall, and said, "Do you want a nation, or don't you?" when it came time to compromise on giving two senators apiece to both the small and large states. And don't forget Patrick Henry, whose role in the Bill of Rights was vital. This was a compromise; you need cooperation on both sides to achieve an enduring compromise. Neither side must be allowed to achieve a total victory, lest your Constitution be short-lived like the others. From the beginning, our Constitution was as weak as anyone could make it -- and still survive. The Founding Fathers were idealists who had almost lost a war. There was only one thing worse than winning a war, and that was to lose one.

Trump and Fauci compared with King George and Franklin

{Pearls on the String}

Something important is illustrated by the contemporary conflict between our President and our Chief expert on the novel Coronavirus.

Unless you were asleep you know that there was a public squabble over whether we should follow the advice of our chief expert or our chief elected leader. The President, who was chosen to decide such things, stated his position and his chosen advisor on the subject said he disagreed. The lawyers recognize it should never come to this, that "Never ask a question you don't already know the answer to." The other side was wrong, too. They forgot they were arguing with someone who could instantly fire them, for no stated reason at all. As you notice, the King eventually lost his most important colony, while the upstart opponent had to change his profession from scientist to politician, sail three thousand ocean miles, and nearly lose his life.

This took place close enough to the Fourth of July to permit the history that lighting had once struck the King's own cathedral of St. Paul's, and the King had asked Ben Franklin to advise him about a lightning rod, since Franklin was the world's expert on the subject. The king wanted a brass ball, but Franklin protested that a spike was better. No such argument was worth the consequences, especially one with thousands of years of father-son experience. There's always a third party seeking to gain from such frivolity, especially in an immigrant nation with teachers of the son seeking importance, or opposite politicians seeking to gain from the embarrassment.

Logan, Franklin, Library

{The Library Company of Philadelphia}
The Library Company of Philadelphia

Jim Greene was a librarian at the Library Company of Philadelphia, and one of the leading authorities on James Logan, the Penn Proprietors' chief agent in the Colony. Since Logan and Ben Franklin were the main forces in starting the oldest library in America, knowing all about Logan almost comes with the job of Librarian. We are greatly indebted to a speech the other night, given by Greene at the Franklin Inn, a hundred yards away from the Library.

{James Logan}
James Logan

Logan has been described as a crusty old codger, living in his mansion called Stenton and scarcely venturing forth in public. He was known as a fair dealer with the Indians, which was an essential part of William Penn's strategy for selling real estate in a land of peace and prosperity. Unfortunately, Logan was behind the infamous Walking Purchase, which damaged his otherwise considerable reputation. Logan must have been a lonesome person in the frontier days of Philadelphia because he owned the largest private library in North America and was passionate about reading and scholarly matters. When he acquired what was the first edition of Newton's Principia, he read it promptly and wrote a one-page summary. Comparatively few people could do this even today. It's pretty tough reading, and those who have read it would seldom claim to have "devoured" it.

{Benjamin Franklin}
Benjamin Franklin

Except young Ben Franklin, who never went past second grade in school. The two became fast friends, often engaging in such games as constructing "Magic Squares" of numbers that added up to the same total in various ways. For example, Franklin doodled off a square with the numbers 52,61,4,13,20,29,36,45 (totaling 260) on the top horizontal row, and every vertical row beneath them totaling 260, as for example 52,14,53,11,55,9,50,16, while every horizontal row also totaled 260 as well. The four corner numbers, with the 4 middle numbers, also total 260. Logan constructed his share of similar games, which it is difficult to imagine anyone else in the colonies doing at the time.

Logan and Franklin together conceived the idea of a subscription library, which in time became the Library Company of Philadelphia in 1732. The subscription required of a library member was intended to be forfeited if the borrower failed to return a book. Later on, the public was allowed to borrow books, but only on deposit of enough money to replace the book if unreturned. We are not told whose idea was behind these arrangements, but they certainly sound like Franklin at work. More than a century later, the Philadelphia Free Library was organized under more trusting rules for borrowing which became possible as books became less expensive.

Logan died in 1751, the year Franklin at the age of 42 decided to retire from business -- and devote the remaining 42 years of his life to scholarly and public affairs. He first joined the Assembly at that time, so he and Logan were not forced into direct contention over politics, although they had their differences. How much influence Logan exerted over Franklin's plans and attitudes is not entirely clear; it must have been a great deal.

B. Franklin, a Chronology


Born 1706 --the fifteenth child of a Boston candle-maker, Josiah Franklin, the seventh child of his second wife.

Died, April 17, 1790--Buried in Christ Church Cemetery, in Philadelphia, after a celebrated funeral parade. The President of Pennsylvania.

Morris at the Constitutional Convention

{Constitutional Convention 1787}
Constitutional Convention 1787

TRUE, George Washington was the presiding officer of the Constitutional Convention. But Pennsylvania was the host delegation, so the role of presiding host should have fallen to Benjamin Franklin, the President of Pennsylvania. However, Franklin was getting elderly and turned the job over to Robert Morris, who among other things was rich enough to host some necessary parties. The rules of decorum at that time thus kept Washington and Morris out of the floor debates. The proceedings were, in any event, kept the secret, so occasional frowns or encouraging smiles are not recorded for history.

But Morris had been an active debater in the Assembly and other meetings, so he knew enough to line up a consensus in advance for the matters he thought were essential. Obviously, Morris was strongly in favor of giving the national government power to levy taxes for defense purposes, and Washington whose troops had suffered severely from the inability of the Continental Congress to pay them also regarded this taxing power as the central reason for changing the rules. By making it the central argument for holding the convention at all, Washington, Franklin, and Morris had made taxation power a foregone conclusion. And by giving them what they wanted from the outset, the rest of the convention was in a position to do almost anything else it wanted without open comment from the Titans. The sense of this trade-off was captured by Gouverneur Morris, the editor of the Constitution, in Article I, Section 8:

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;
This formulation had the effect of greatly empowering James Madison, the only participant who had studied the inside details intensively and cared about every comma. It also encourages the military to believe that federal taxation was mainly their entitlement, whereas those whose main goals are defined as "the general Welfare" tend to regard defense spending as an unnecessary deduction from their share.

{Constitutional Convention 1787}
Pawn Broker Sign

Most of the convention delegates had experience with state legislatures, and Franklin and Morris had spent decades struggling with the weaknesses of legislators. A wink or a quip in a tavern was as good as an hour's speech for reminding the delegates what they already knew about human nature. What was designed as a dual system of powers of taxation, with federal oversight of balanced state budgets combined with federal power to tax on its own in emergencies or unforeseen situations. Since the members of the first few congresses after 1789 were largely the same people as the members of the constitutional convention, many details of this balance were worked out over a few following years. State powers to tax and borrow were tightly constrained, only the federal government could tax and borrow without limit. Since government borrowing is merely the power to defer taxes until later, the borrower of last resort was the U.S. Congress, alone empowered to encumber the wealth of the whole nation in a federal pawn shop window called the funded National Debt. For almost two centuries, this pawn shop window seemed able to support any imaginable expense. Today, we monitor this as the ratio of national debt to Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and we now have a clearer idea what level of that ratio flirts with hopeless inability to pay the federal government's debt. The experts say it's close to a 60% ratio, and unfortunately, almost every nation on earth now exceeds that limit. The system continues to lack an unchallenged definition of its limit, but the system is nevertheless still Morris's system, wrapped in a mountain of descriptive detail by Alexander Hamilton. If a nation borrows more than that and clearly will never repay it, that nation is to some degree a slave to its creditors, with war its only hope if creditors are unrelenting. Perhaps another way to refine the thought is to say that if the nation wishes to mortgage everything it owns down to the last shoe button, the creditors will only accept additional debt if it is proposed by someone with the power to pawn the last shoe button. To foreigners, the proof of who has what power is much more certain if written down. Morris's protege Alexander Hamilton went even further: "credit" is established when creditors can see that somebody is in the habit of getting the nation's bills paid, and "credit" is injured whenever anyone in charge, welches.

General References: Muti-Topic Footnotes: Lifetime Biographies: Notes:

General Biographies.


Benjamin Franklin: An American Life Walter Isaacson ISBN-10: 0684807610Amazon
Benjamin Franklin: Some Account of the Pennsylvania Hospital 1754 Professor I. Bernard Cohen Library Number:54-11251Amazon
Benjamin Franklin Carl Van Doren ISBN-13: 978-0140152609Amazon
Benjamin Franklin Edmund S. Morgan ISBN-13: 978-0300095326Amazon
Benjamin Franklin Numbers: An Unsung Mathematical Odyssey Paul C. Pasles ISBN-13: 978-0691129563Amazon

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36 Blogs

Franklin Crown Soap
The Boston Franklin's were supported by discovering that adding salt to soft soap would harden it into soap bars. Eventually, the secret was leaked and soap bars became commonplace.

Benjamin Franklin: Chronology
Franklin retired at age 42, and spent the other half of his life in public service. Only 33 scattered years of that 82-year life were spent in Philadelphia, but he was here for the French and Indian War, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitutional Convention. He was a scalawag kid in Boston, a wealthy scientist in London, and a diplomat in Paris.

The Origin of States : Articles of Confederation: Land Aspirations of Virginia 2331 : Blog 2331 :
The clamor for States Rights probably began with Virginia's claims for western territories.

Boundaries of the Grant of Pennsylvania
The land granted to Penn was mostly swamp and wilderness in the 17th Century. Infinite disagreements were certain to result, but a paragraph described all that could be known at the time of the grant.

Benjamin Franklin: Reference Page
Reference Books that inspired Benjamin Franklin Blogs.

New blog TITLE BLOG 4330: Volume 670:
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New blog 2020-08-11 15:49:40 TITLE 4300)
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Daniel Boone and the Whiskey Rebellion
There's a legend that George Washington and Daniel Boone didn't like each other.

New blog 2020-08-11 11:07:21 TITLE Front Stuff
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B. Franklin, a Chronology : Blog 3770: Blog 3771: New Style Birth Blog 3770:
Eighty-four years, from candle-stick maker's son to Philadelphia's elderly hero. Chronology 3770: Blog 3770: Birth Blog 3770:

NEW TITLE 4315: Ben Franklin's Genealogy: Topic 601:
The Franklin family was huge.: New Blog 601: Topic 601: Volume 601: Collection 601:

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New blog 4320 TITLE Franklin as Postmaster General: Blog 4320:
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4288 Blog To Topics if Brun=N goto 567 Barun=R goto 655 Bkrun=() goto 655 Topic Brun=N
4288 Blog BEGIN HERE by choosing either 7000(Brun=Y) 0r 7001(run=N) Brun=655 Brun=R DESCRIPTION: TOPIC 7000 is intended to be a one-instruction block between HTML and pointers. It connects the two and makes it possible to put the program on the cloud un-intelligibly: For Bookrun=R, go to Volume 7000 Bookrun=: For Bookrun=N goto TOPIC 7001. A different sequence is followed for each choice, but first, you must select the column of this program you are working in.Brun=N 4288

Ben Franklin: Author (4280): Stages () : Chapters () :
DESCRIPTION: a summary in the black box. Run-1: Backrun=1 (4280): Bacrun=1: BaRun=1: BRun=2: Brun=1: Volume 234: Run=4088 DESCRIPTION: a summary blurb in the black box.Run-1: Backrun=1: Bacrun=1: BaRun=1: BRun=2: Brun=1: Volume 234: Run=4088

A Toast to Doctor Franklin
The Franklin Inn annually toasts three doctors. Even though Ben never went past second grade, his medical contributions are the most illustrious of the three. One of the most remarkable men who ever lived.

New blog 2020-09-06 15:06:42 TITLE Franklin And the Nation He Created. : 4355:
DESCRIPTION: This is a book about Benjamin Franklin's life. Born in Boston at a time Puritans were still under the spiritual leadership of Cotton Mather, it is important that this was only half-way in American history. Still in religious turmoil from the English Civil war, and in a long period of land speculation which only started to abate with George Washington, America's first President, subduing the Whiskey Rebellion. Sandwiched in-between was Franklin's long life. Like the nation, he was a rich speculator, a diligent worker, and often a witty idealist. Always reticent, it was sometimes hard to tell which he dissembled, especially when he switched sides. He was one of the most remarkable men who ever lived.

Ball Lightning, Regular Lightning, and B. Franklin
Knowledge about ball lightning is as dismal today as Franklin found the state of knowledge about regular lightning in 1752. Let's put ourselves in his shoes.

Concessions and Agreements
Most 17th Century colonies were proprietorships, requiring agreements for local autonomy without losing allegiance to the home country. William Penn cleverly expanded the New Jersey document into the intellectual precursor of the U.S. Constitution.

The Failed Mid-Atlantic Subjugation, 1776-78
The war was not won by the British attack on the Philadelphia region, nor was it exactly lost there. George Washington resisted the British subjugation of the capital region until the British gave up and went away. In the process, General Howe occupied New York and destroyed the Quaker church in Philadelphia, forcing the defenders to retreat to Valley Forge, occupied the enemy capital of Philadelphia and won over its Tory element, and beat away its retreat across New Jersey to the battle of Monmouth, and finally escaped back to New York, as General Clinton replaced him. It took two years and it had a lot of success. But he lost, and George Washington survived. You have to admit the British gave it a serious try, and the alternative would have been to watch the three Quaker states burn to the ground.

Declaration of Independence: Jefferson's Response to Prohibitory Act
Jefferson's Declaration was a long and flowery response to a terse Monarch's notice that He was in charge. That is, the King brushed aside the attempt to separate him from Parliament, and mostly just replied to colonial effrontery with overwhelming force. The colonials were right to suppose Admiral Howe intended to burn all thirteen colonies to the ground.

Debt and Corruption: One of Them May Ruin Us, or Save Us
It nearly ruined The Merchant of Venice . It ruined Robert Morris and it has ruined lots of nations. It got better for a while, but we are gradually waking up to what may become the greatest financial gamble in history.

George: 10 Randomly numbered Blog ID numbers into 20 Chapters in Two Steps
This is a description in some detail about how to program this step.

Albany Conference 1754

Forming the State of Delaware
In 1632, King Charles I granted to the Maryland proprietor coastal land with a northern border at the 40th parallel. In 1682, his son James the Duke of York evicted the Dutch from the Connecticut River to Cape Henlopen; afterward, his brother King Charles II gave away New Jersey and Pennsylvania, leaving York with New York plus a strip of wilderness from Pennsylvania to Henlopen. York then gifted that southern strip to William Penn before anyone realized there was a sloppy overlap with Maryland of thousands of square miles. Lawsuits are galore.

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C13.............Balance at Last
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Annotated Table of Contents
Table of Contents

.................Constitutions: So What's So Good About Ours; Why Do Europe's Fail?
The American Constitution was created by a dozen successful men, opposed by a dozen others. Since it was a compromise, its balance may explain its endurance, once the Bill of Rights established minority protections.

Trump and Fauci compared with King George and Franklin
DESCRIPTION: Something important can be learned from similar cases in the past.

Logan, Franklin, Library
James Logan and Benjamin Franklin were at the opposite ends of the social scale in Colonial Philadelphia and were to adopt strongly differing political views. But each recognized the intellectual power of the other, and they were fast friends.

B. Franklin, a Chronology
Eighty four years, from candle-stick maker's son to Philadelphia's elderly hero, the seventh child of his second wife,.

Morris at the Constitutional Convention
Robert Morris knew that credit is only extended to someone with a reputation for paying his bills.

General References: Muti-Topic Footnotes: Lifetime Biographies: Notes:

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