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Cobb talks about politics here, specifically the uselessness of one man's vote in the political arena as opposed to, say, one very rich man's money or one very influential writer's blog. He thinks the solution is in a restructuring of government so that it works on a more open-source model.

Ahhh...no. While I think it would be great if we fired all the Congressional staffers and put all the bills & amendments out there for people to comment on before the Congresscritters actually vote (pubilcly) on this nonsense, neither solution really deals with the fundamental problem of politics in America today: everybody's gotten used to making a Federal case out of every little pissing contest from Aroostook to Diamond Head, and that stupidity needs to stop. Despite the appalling state of many public schools, the average American has finally gotten his head around the fact that Washington can't fix everything, may in fact be making things worse, and in any case is serving as a patronage trough for the powerful and their friends. Which is why you have millions of people out in the streets doing Tea Party protests and getting ready to evict a bunch of Congresscritters from their comfy DC offices come November.

The Constitution was fairly explicit about the sort of things the Federal government was supposed to do, and aside from that very restricted list of duties, everything else was supposed to be handled by the states or local government. Not coincidentally, those are a lot easier to keep an eye on than the Congress in Washington. Unfortunately, as we all know, Progressives of both parties started pushing more and more business up the hill to Washington, and eventually we got to where we are today, with faceless bureaucrats dictating what local school boards must do if they want federal money - which comes out of the same pockets that school board is extracting property taxes from to begin with. Or not; it's long been known that some states rake in more Federal dollars than others, while the others get drained of more taxes than they get back. It needs to stop. All those programs need to stop, the strings need to be cut, and Washington needs to go back to its basic duties of national defense, foreign affairs, and making sure Maryland and Virginia (for example) aren't shooting at each other over navigational rights on the Potomac. Maybe once everything is devolved back to the states we can look at open-sourcing local and state governments, but first things first. The road to America's future needs to run back through its past if we're going to continue being the republic we're supposed to be.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 9th, 2010 09:58 pm (UTC)
How Many?
How many people does it take to legislate some matter at the state level, and does that process adequately inform people?

Or do laws and opinions propagate that have nothing to do with the core issue or the law that gets passed?

I'm not suggesting that more law is required, but less. I'm suggesting that the legislative process is too secretive and arcane. But I have to make all this clear in a manifesto.
Jan. 9th, 2010 10:36 pm (UTC)
Re: How Many?
Right now I would argue that most state legislatures (and their partners in crime in the media) do a horrible job of informing the people what they're going to do to them, and that definitely needs to change. Some states are putting bills online and even have lists of new bills posted, but it's a full-time job just trying to keep up with those in a place like Minnesota. I can only imagine how many writers you'd need to stay on top of California or New York. So we agree that the process is way too secretive and winds up being a means of distributing spoils as much as it is a means of getting the necessary work of the state done. The process isn't helped by the lobbies and pressure groups who pollute the information stream with unsupported assertions, accusations, balderdash and ballyhoo in an attempt to get their piece of the action or defend it against people who want to cut it down or take it away. Probably the best example of this is the long war of the "education" unions and their associated shills in the PTA against home schoolers, charter schools, Catholic schools, and any other threat the the public school monopoly.

(That you, Cobb?)

Edited at 2010-01-09 10:36 pm (UTC)
Jan. 10th, 2010 03:18 pm (UTC)
a major issue with the idea of "let the people do it direct" is that
as nice and wonderful as that SOUNDS it just means that the power
moves from people in the current model (elected - accountable
once in a while through elections) to the individuals who are willing
and able to spend the most time "getting informed"

don't get me wrong, that SOUNDS good, but right now on the left
and the right, the most shrill and most insane are the ones with the
time and energy to do this - the average guy, he (and she) is busy
earning a living, working their asses off, feeding their kids and being
worried about THEIR family future... they may not have the time to
devote to this, and that is why (in theory) they pay someone to do it
for them, their elected officials... the removal of the people who
do the work (even if they are doing a terrible and corrupt job of it)
leaves a HUGE vacuum, and we all know that nature (and particularly
human nature) will fill that up right quick.

Jan. 10th, 2010 11:27 pm (UTC)
Well, actually, the system as it works now is run by precisely the kind of people you're talking about: people who want power and who are willing to spend considerable time & effort learning the ropes so they can be the "specialist" elected officials, which was not the way the republic was set up to run. But I agree with you and the Founders that direct democracy is a horrible idea and needs to be avoided. I'm not even that enthusiastic about parliamentary versions of democracy, because those tend either to be extremely volatile (Italy & Israel) or prone to long periods of one-party government until people get pissed off at all the corruption & stupidity (England, France, Japan, maybe Spain).

This doesn't mean we can't apply open-source principles to a republic, but we need to make sure that Joe & Jane Sixpack can sit at home for an hour a night (maybe) and keep tabs on what is going on at the state, local, and federal levels through the Internet, without having some talking head or lobbyist "explain" to them what's going on.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )



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