James Leroy Wilson's blog

Friday, February 24, 2006

Orwell Times Two

1984 has come to the Animal Farm with the NAIS, as I report at Downsize DC.

You Call That Downsizing?

Also at DownsizeDC (no, I have not been asked nor am I paid to direct traffic there), Jim Babka wonders what's up with the Cato Institute. They used to actually propose real downsizing - eliminating federal programs, agencies, departments. Now, they're just proposing cuts in the rate of increase (.pdf) of spending. We still will get more government, not less.

When Downsizing Is Bad

I've been thinking lately that a national government should have what the founders of the republic envisioned, a representative for every 30-40 thousand people. If districts are larger than that, the system is not truly representative and can't be seriously called democratic. Not only does a vote not count, (not that they would much in districts of 30,000 either) but genuinely local interests are not represented or protected. I'm not suggesting a solution to this, because no one is going to seriously consider a Congress with 7,000 members. All I'm suggesting that the nation is too large to be "democratic" or "republican" in any real sense.

But we should keep democratic representation as numerous as possible. Warren Bluhn writes of the Green Bay experience:
I remember when the Brown County Board had 44 supervisors and the Green Bay City Council had 24 aldermen. After the 1990 census they slashed those bodies to 24 and 12 members, respectively. The idea was to make the legislative bodies more efficient and reduce the unwieldy length of meetings, which could end close to or after midnight.

The result? Meetings last just as long. With fewer people to talk, each individual local politician just talks longer. With supervisory districts increased in size, fewer small neighborhoods are represented. With the non-white population greater than ever, the Brown County Board and Green Bay City Council are pretty much fraternities of white men.

When the United States wrote their Constitution, the founders created a House of Representatives with each member representing no more than 30,000 constituents. If that ratio had been maintained, the House would now have thousands of members - but do you think we'd be stuck with only two nearly indistinguishable political parties? or do you think we'd have a cacophony of voices and a pile of parties representing all walks of life from this grand melting pot?

Efficient government is dictatorship. Representative democracy is supposed to be chaotic.

Democracy is often criticized, especially by conservatives who constantly say "We live in a REPUBLIC, not a democracy!" But the only thing wrong with democracy is when it's reduced to simple majority rule. If democracy is reframed as simply acknowledging that people have a right to have a say and have control over matters pertaining to them, I'm all for it. Every proposal to "downsize" representation should be opposed.

Science Is In Dire Straits

Calling a great but aging rock star a dinosaur has become a compliment. From Wikipedia: Masiakasaurus knopfleri is a dinosaur species named after the musician Mark Knopfler. The team unearthing the fossil seemed to find more specimens while listening to Knopfler's music.


Blair Warren's third excerpt of his Forbidden Keys to Persuasion is up, but not for long.

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