11 November 2006

Why The New Congress is Guaranteed to Disappoint

The Democrats have taken back the House and Senate. For that I'm glad. Nonetheless, the 110th session of congress is certain to disappoint and the fault lies not in human nature but in the design of government by our founding fathers.

It is common to decry our form of democracy as great but its execution poor because of the greed and corruption of politicians. This kind of apologia sounds rather like defenders of communist ideals who say that communism would have worked if only people weren't so selfish. Adam Smith's capitalism worked in large part because it did not depend on the butcher or baker transcending his self interest but, rather, used that. What is needed is a new design of government that does not depend on the transcendence of human nature.

One of the reasons that our 110th Congress is guaranteed to disappoint is that it is based on the assumption that if each representative does what is best for his or her district, they will automatically do what is best for the whole country. Each congressman does all he can to lower taxes and increase government spending in his district. To the extent that he is successful, he simply drives up the national debt. This may be among the simplest explanations of why public opinion of one's congressperson is invariably higher than the opinion of Congress.

The problem with Congress is not a problem of poor representatives. It is a problem of poor government design.

1 comment:

Life Hiker said...

"Based on the assumption that that if each representative does what is best for his or her district, they will automatically do what is best for the whole country." I'm not so sure that this is the assumption. Is it too much to hope that people will elect representatives who can think globally as well as locally?

My experience is that great leadership overcomes organizational deficiencies. Individuals with proven intellect, charisma, and courage communicate a vision of a better tomorrow and the means to achieve it. They have the ability to beat back the challenges of the small thinkers, and the people follow them with confidence.

Conversely, when a leader is unable to implement any of his/her major goals despite six years of trying, deficits in intelligence, courage, or charisma must be assumed.