How Many Pies is That?

Follow up to yesterday’s blog:

If 4000 blackbirds fell from the sky, how many pies is that?

Sing a song of sixpence,
A pocket full of rye.
Four and twenty blackbirds,
Baked in a pie.

(from Wikipedia)

I happen to have a calculator at my desk, and the answer may be found at the end of today’s blog.  On to more serious matters–the Constitution.


Specifically, I want to reflect on the reading of the Constitution on the House floor as Congress open its 112th session. I gather it was the first time in U.S. history.  That in itself is something to wonder about.

Symbolism is a dicey thing.  It can be profound and moving or shallow and cynical.  I am not what you’d call a drum-beating patriot, but I can see the tattered U.S flag flying in my mind when I hear the National Anthem at ball games.  It is moving to me in a deep way.  I feel the sacrifices of the men who fought to maintain freedom back then when the outcome of the battle really did matter.  I can see the women who hung on to the thin hope that their husbands and sons would come back alive rather than draped in the Colors.

It is the values represented by the flag that move me, not some watery conviction about a particular piece of the planet.  If Fiji were the only place left on Earth where men and women could live free, I would feel the same way about Fiji and probably get teary-eyed listening to that anthem at whatever kind of sporting event they hold.

So before anyone gets the bright idea that a soft spot in your heart for America means you have a soft spot in your head as well, let’s clear something up.  The United States is not divine.  We screw up.  Regularly.  I don’t believe any deity, if such exists, favors us.  I don’t believe we are “destined” for anything special.  What we are disappears when the values underlying the flag are forgotten by the real people made of flesh and sinew who live here.

Now those values are being trampled by the very entity that is supposed to secure them for us.  Our own government had to be virtually clubbed into recognizing that they cannot do just anything to us and call it “for” us.  They had to be shamed into saying outright that certain things are off limits.  They had to be instructed to vote certain ways because they were too dense to get it right on their own.

So I say “Hallelujah!” for the reading.  Will it make Democrats renounce big government?  Please.  Will it make Republicans get out of bed with giant corporations?  Double please.  Of course it won’t.  It will be ridiculed by cynics as posturing.  It will be used to mask the back-door deals that will inevitably continue.  But it will also go down in history as the moment in which We the People won our first battle.  It will be remembered as The Day America Woke Up.

The Constitution is not a divine document.  It is at least partially the result of compromises among a multitude of views.  It is not perfect, having fallen short for minorities and women, leaving enough wiggle room to justify fiat money, and not setting a limit on the number of talk shows broadcast daily.  You no doubt have your own list.  But it does one thing that cannot be denied, despite Nancy Pelosi’s incredulity.  It limits government.

Since FDR threatened to pack the Supreme Court to get what he wanted, our government has engaged in a decades-long orgy of power-grabbing and conscienceless spending.  The result is that they have brought us to the brink of annihilation.  The Constitution may not be perfect, but reading it is a great warning shot over the bow.  Congress, the Executive Branch, and the Courts would do well to remember who runs this country–the people.  No amount of false goodness packed into illegitimate laws makes them right.  If the members of Congress who read our Constitution aloud the other day can’t stick to that principle, we’ll find some who can.



About Terry Noel

I am an Associate Professor of Management and Quantitative Methods at Illinois State University. My specialty is entrepreneurship.
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