James Leroy Wilson's blog

Monday, April 02, 2007

The Read the Bills Act and Blog Traffic

The Read the Bills Act has been discussed with increasing frequency in the blogosphere lately. The essence of the bill is that members of Congress will be required to know the contents of the bills they vote for, and bills will be posted for seven days on the Internet before the final vote is taken. That is, Congress will know what's in the bill, and we can find out if we want to and tell Congress what we think days before they vote. But don't take my word for it, read the full text of the bill yourself.

Some will say the RTBA will never pass. But the Berlin Wall wasn't supposed to collapse either. When the "masses" have had enough and "rise up," there will be nothing for Congress to do but acquiesce. What's special about the Read the Bills Act is that diverse groups can agree with this and join the cause.

To liberals: When members of Congress pass laws they haven't read, this amounts to "legislation without representation" - the opposite of democracy. The Read the Bills Act will also hold members of Congress accountable by opening up the process to public scrutiny. Congress will have incentives to eliminate pork and special favors, and focus only on bills that have widespread support. And even if one doesn't find all the provisions of the RTBA "practical," shouldn't it at least get introduced in Congress and have its provisions considered and debated? Should not reforms go in that direction?

To conservatives: The RTBA will force Congress to make hard choices and set priorities. Congress will be more willing to let state and local communities look after their own affairs, which was the vision of the Founders of the Republic.

To radical libertarians and anarchists: to pressure Congress to get this (or any bill that would limit its powers and scope) passed, is not some sort "concession" to the State, or acknowledgement of the State's legitimacy. It is, rather, a practical means of expanding liberty because it will inhibit Congress's ability to pass laws and expand government. It is often obscure bills that to tremendous damage to the lives, liberties, and property of the people. Congress won't have time to pass them. Other times, it is obscure, unread provisions of large bills that inflict harm, but Congress will have incentive to remove them. Moreover, as it says on the RTBA main page, "Government should shrink as old laws reach their sunset date, and have to be read for the first time before they can be renewed."

Support for the RTBA has been building steadily, and bloggers will play an increasingly important role in pressuring and "cornering" Congress into passing it. But as bloggers promote the Read the Bills Act, they will also promote themselves. Here's how:

At the upper right, you will find a button for the "Read the Bills Act Coalition." This will take you to DownsizeDC.org's Read the Bills Act page, where you can press "Send a Message" to tell your Represenative and Senators to introduce the Read the Bills Act. When you're done, and if you are a blogger or have some other website, you can get your own Read the Bills Act Coalition button, banner, or tower for your site. If you are a blogger, all that is asked is that you keep your readers informed of RTBA news from time to time. Further instructions for talk show hosts, political parties, and non-partisan organizations are found here. Then, let DownsizeDC.org know of your intention to join the RTBA Coalition by emailing RTBAcoalition@downsizedc.org.

Two things will happen. First, you'll get a link at the DownsizeDC.org blog, improving your link stats and traffic stats if those are important to you. Also, your blog or site will be introduced to 20,000+ readers of the Downsizer-Dispatch, the newsletter of DownsizeDC.org. And OF COURSE you want those readers - otherwise, why blog?

Get the Read the Bills Act passed, and get more web traffic at the same time. Everyone wins.

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