Free Markets, Free People

Gridlock: It’s a feature, not a bug

No one said it would go smoothly or that compromise was a requirement in Congress.  For whatever reason, “progress”, for some, is defined in the number of new laws passed and hours worked in Congress.  NBC News for instance in their daily email newsletter this morning:

By now, we’ve told you how unproductive the 113th Congress has been so far, now passing just 57 bills into law (compared with 67 passed at this same point in time by the previous 112th Congress, which then was the least productive modern Congress on record). But here’s another way to measure how unproductive the Congress has been — in terms of hours worked. “According to data analyzed by The New York Times, the House of Representatives, which ended its business for the year last week, left town with the distinction of having been at work for the fewest hours in a nonelection year since 2005, when detailed information about legislative activity became available. Not counting brief, pro forma sessions, the House was in session for 942 hours, an average of about 28 hours each week it conducted business in Washington. That is far lower than the nearly 1,700 hours it was in session in 2007, the 1,350 hours in 2005 or even the 1,200 in 2011.” We know members of Congress do much of their work with constituents back home. But the TV ads here kind of write themselves. Who wouldn’t want a 28-hour work week? Expect every incumbent to get dinged with that “28 hour work week” hit while “you at home struggle to make ends meet working 40 or 50 hours” yada yada.

Yada, yada indeed.  We ought to give them medals for not intruding any further on our freedoms.  OK, not really.  But apparently it is forgotten that Congress was supposed to be a part-time job (thus the two sessions) and that only laws of necessity (as outlined in the Constitution) were to be passed.   Now, apparently, Congress is only “productive” when it is engaged in stepping on everyone’s freedoms by passing dozens upon dozens of new laws, many of which are unnecessary or are designed to reward one constituency at the cost of another.

And we’ve developed a ruling class via career politicians and their heirs.  I’ve never been so tired of the names Clinton, Bush, Kennedy, Cuomo, etc.  Political power isn’t hereditary … or wasn’t supposed to be anyway.

Why do people feel the way NBC does?  Because they don’t pay attention and they have no sense of history or how this nation was formed.  They’ve totally bought into the mind drugs that purveyors like NBC and the NY Times offer every day. According to them, a “productive” Congress is a Congress engaged in finding new ways to run your life. As Dale said last night we’re finally to the stage that most of the country believes they belong to the state.

American exceptionalism isn’t a figment of anyone’s imagination. It is, or was, a product of our founding. And as long as we stuck to the principles of our founding, we remained an exceptional country. Now it seems we’re headed toward the mediocrity of any number of other countries simply by trying to fix something that wasn’t broken. We’ve fallen for the siren song of “free” stuff, and there are enough Americans benefiting from the state robbing others to give to them that they see no reason to change that slide into the abyss. As long as the free stuff continues to come their way while they live, well, that’s just fine.

And the NBCs of the world are just fine with helping us along to that unexceptional, over-regulated, nanny-state existence that they apparently think is best for us and our country.


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31 Responses to Gridlock: It’s a feature, not a bug

  • American exceptionalism isn’t a figment of anyone’s imagination. It is, or was, a product of our founding.

    Uh, no, it is a reason for our founding. You can trace it back, to the English Revolution (and earlier, to a lessor extend), and find the cultural underpinnings of American exceptionalism. It wasn’t created by the Founding Fathers; rather they existed (as we know them) because of it.

  • Now it seems we’re headed toward the mediocrity of any number of other countries simply by trying to fix something that wasn’t broken.

    In fact, this has been going on for awhile. For example, FDR’s four terms in office is a sign we were moving towards banana republic status. But we managed to regain ourselves post FDR, particularly during the Reagan era. Obama and his repeated violation of rule of law represents a particular decent into banana republic behaviour.

    As I’ve stated before, constitutions don’t enforce themselves. In order to make things work, you need a well behavied culture.

    • Now it seems we’re headed toward the mediocrity of any number of other countries simply by trying to fix something that wasn’t broken

      >>>> Actually, we’re heading towards the mediocrity (or worse) of any number of other countries because of the voters who – simply put – are grubbers.

  • Frankly, I’m just sick and tired of these idiots who talk about having to “get something done.”
    Sometimes doing nothing is better that doing something stupid just to “get something done.”
    We could shove a corncob up the President’s backside, and that would qualify as “getting something done.”
    But don’t go all judgemental on me about whether this is good or bad as it wasn’t my idea that we had to “get something done.”

    • It’s a worldwide problem – Global Warming provides a perfect example.
      “WE MUST DO SOMETHING!!!!!”  was the cry.   What to do?   Ah, yes, the magic gas was CO2, THAT was it!
      One gas we did have some a costly measure of control over, and that we produced in fair quantity, (conveniently) WAS the answer!
      So now we could “DO SOMETHING!!!!!!” when it wasn’t at all obvious what that would do, who would do it, how long it would take, etc.   What mattered was we were taking action!
      We should take heart though, because “do something!” is infectious.
      I personally think that the master planners of ObamaCare always intended it to be a disastrous epic fail.   It would crater health insurance, crater people’s coverage, and REQUIRE a government single payer FIX to the problem that government created, completing the government takeover of health care.
      I still think it will go that way.  But in the heat of the moment (today), I think they’re caught up in attempting to make work something they didn’t really mean to work, and it’s all because they’re suddenly caught up in “DO SOMETHING!” mode.   I’m hoping their ineffectual flailing will reveal their crooked corrupt practices to even the most willfully blind, and is working to the detriment of the master planners who wanted single payer and mapped out a ship wrecking to get it.

      • That “ObamaDoesn’tCare wasn’t supposed to work” meme would only work if there was enough support (i.e. Democrats or worse) in Congress.
        All that evaporated in the 2010 election.  If it was the plan, that plan is gone.  But what do have is EPIC.  Perhaps it’s EPIC stupidity or EPIC incompetnece.
        I don’t think ObmaDoesn’tCare’s greatest detractors ever thought that the rollout would be this bad .. I mean .. it’s web site .. there are thousands of web sites out there  … what could go wrong with that ? … these were the guys who were always ahead of the curve in their campaign web sites and social media tech.
        The only reason to have the web site go so wrong would be to distract from the rate increases for health care coverage.

        • I don’t think they worried about Obaacare working long term, the goal was always socialized medicine. However, I don’t see how they would push it thinking it would fail before it even left the gate. I’m thinking they wanted a neat new entitlement (most) people would like, aka medicare and social security, something that would gain great popularity until it needed “reform”. 

          Failing at startyup hardly suggests Democrats as effective reformers.  

          • Yep.
            The “they always wanted single-payer” model assumes happy, happy Fabian gut-worms that successfully attach to the political intestines of Americans, and, having gotten there, just grow to the next instar.
            They did not count on the thumping failure of the Obami, and it looks more and more like the ObamaDoggle gut-worm is going to be passed out in the next bowel movement of the American polity.

          • Never assume that people who do bad things are master planners. Anyone competent enough to accurately predict the result based upon knowledge of human behavior ought to be able to recognize that command economies are an utter failure, abandon the “progressive” agenda, and embrace the free market. Unless, of course, they are sociopaths.
            If I had to wager, I’d guess that they are not as smart as some of these theories require, that they only had vague expectations of a failure.  That they allowed the website to be a piece of crap is more likely laziness, incompetence, and/or nepotism than some clever ruse.
            The genius mastermind you find in fiction is exceedingly rare in real life. “The Banality of Evil” brought forth a critical observation to the analysis of authoritarianism. While you should never take your eye off the more talented strategists, the greatest danger is most likely to come in a plain package, once people have become conditioned to apathy and grow used to the bar being set very low.

          • I tend to see the motivation as power. The goal of socialized medical care is to gain power over us, not improve the health care system. So understanding the failures of central control does not stop them from trying to move forward with the plan.

            But I agree that their approach does not suggest skilled leadership. People who value leadership don’t push single term senators into high level executive office.

    • The Architects of the Left’s messages and hence the constant media droning, know that when the government does something it grows.  At a minimum it adds government employees and any kind of hand-out that develops is gravy.
      At some point if enough people work for the government, we are communist by default.  Somewhere before 50%, imho.

    • I suspect this happens because people have been trained that government action is “free” and I mean that in money terms as well as other ways, but it does give them some psychic gratification (Myth of the Rational Voter territory.)
      Many Americans are very insulated from regulations, etc. I would bet that the more insulated the more willing to vote for Big Government…say a college prof who’s staff handles all paperwork, etc.
      I suggest there needs to be a mechanism to offset the psychic gratification…to put a price on it.
      Just for a dumb little starter idea, we could force voters to write a paragraph for why they support Candidate A or Measure B before being allowed to vote for them.
      The holy grail for me would be like unit pricing at the grocery store – for every policy, there would be a price tag, and taxes would go up that much. This would be explicitly on the budget.
      Another idea of mine was to have Congress critters only legislate for 1 year. The other year of their term, they would be assigned a random firm from their district and for that year, they would be legally responsible for all compliance documentation, etc. for that company, like Sarbanes-Oxely, they would have to “sign off” – I suspect that we see a sudden rush to make regulations much easier to deal with then.

      • should read “ballot” not “budget.”

        On all national ballots, before getting to electing candidates, there would be a reprise of the current finance and tax situation:
        Budget Size
        Budget Deficit or Surplus
        Tax / capita
        Very simple information
        The voter must check the box next to each piece of data before choosing any candidate.

  • An excellent topic, McQ.
    The Constitution contemplates a legislative body that ONLY passes laws consistent with the limits imposed by the charter that provides them any legitimacy, first.
    Second, it used to be that laws were very carefully drafted.  They were not left to provide “agencies” (of which there were VERY few) much in the way of interpretive latitude.  They were generally still very concise, targeted measures that people could read and comprehend.  The “pass it so we can find out what’s in it” model is anathema to any notion of a republican democracy.
    Third, as McQ notes, members of Congress were not initially “full-timers”, but were expected to be “citizen legislators” who had other interests and a MUCH broader view of a world grounded in reality, quite distinct from the artificial swamp of delusion that is modern DC.  I doubt very much early members of congresses would dream of being rated according to the number of bills they authored.  Today, being a “bill-less” Congress member is a decided put-down.

    • Yep, the original idea was they would be men who had their own business, what have you. that needed tending to, and that their full time job would not be sitting in Philadelphia to make laws to create ‘a multitude of New Offices, and send hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.”

    • It all comes down to the voters. In a just world, as soon as Nancy Pelosi said we have to pass it to see what’s in it, she’d have been clocked in the face with a ripe tomato and promptly voted out of office. We allow all manner of scum on both sides of the aisle to retain office. We allow Senators to basically pass their seats on to spouses or children like it was hereditary or a family heirloom.
      Sure, they fixed it to a large degree with gerrymandering, and the Al Frankens of the world fixed it to a larger degree by taking votes out of the trunk of a car, but the power has always – and still does – rest with the voters.
      Congress is the voters fault. Pres. Obama is the voters fault – and that includes you non-voters as well. Carlin was a cretin with his “I didn’t vote don’t blame me” line.  Such a fake and a load that one was.
      We stand for lousy pols. We stand for lousy candidates being nominated as the result of machine politics. We keep lousy pols in office election after election over the stupidest things “VAGINA!!!!!! WAR ON WIMMEN!!!! HE PUT A DOG ON HIS ROOF!!!! HES A GONNA PUSH GRANNY OFF A CLIFF!!!
      Some of us are actually engaged and (so we think and hope) a little informed. It won’t be put up with much longer I think

      • You know how this song goes….my guys are okay, it’s YOUR representatives, Senators, who suck!

        • Remember…
          Nanny Pelosi’s new motto for the Collective…
          Embrace the suck!”

  • The lattitude the agencies have is perhaps the most serious threat to the rule of law.

  • The level of support the Democrats have is still much larger than those receiving a handout.
    I don’t think you give enough credit to the “Opposition is Evil” propaganda that the public is bombarded with constantly through all channels.  Tea Party is Racist.  Republicans are obstructionist.  Republicans rape women and force them to carry their rape babies to term or will force people to go to church once a week or get us into war (as if that was uniquely republican).  That’s just not cathartic name calling, its propaganda and it works.  The majority has always been against Obamacare (at 83% now) but its still happening.  Why?  Because the public can’t bring itself to vote for the opposition.

    • “We are the Obama people,” said Camille Sweeney, a New York writer and member of the Authors Guild. Her insurance is being canceled, and she is dismayed that neither her pediatrician nor her general practitioner appears to be on the exchange plans. What to do has become a hot topic on Facebook and at dinner parties frequented by her fellow writers and artists.
      “I’m for it,” she said. “But what is the reality of it?”

      At the Corner, Yuval Levin makes a great observation about that classic facepalm-inducing last paragraph: “Answer first, question second. This would be funny if it weren’t so sad and serious.”
      Typically, the Collective stands reality on its head.
      Orwell knew this, of course.

    • Then I’m quite happy with their suffering, and I hope it increases. I can be a spiteful SOB when given the chance

  • As long as the free stuff continues to come their way while they live, well, that’s just fine.

    And when it collapses, well, they’ll be the apparatchiks, so, no worries. Their paychecks will always be there, come, literally, hell or high water! Remember the recent “government shutdown” when so many people, including Republicans, were in utter panic that a bunch of paper-pushers were off for a paid week-long vacation! Gawd forbid, those poor hapless parasites might, you know, STARVE!

    • Real reform only takes place when the bond market says no.

      • And what would that “reform” be, in light of the parasites being the apparatchiks?

        • I’d like to add two points:
          1) Political parties exist solely to win elections. The Republicans, for all their faults about the current budget deal, have to keep in mind the 2014 mid-terms, and the populace perceptions (wrong or right).
          2) Politicians are a direct reflection of their constituents, be they Ted Cruz’s, or Nancy Pelosi’s.

      • The real problem begins when the Left is surprisingly not unprepared or unable to adapt to that situation.  When it actually crumbles the megaphones will be set to
        “eleven” blaming the bankers or cronies or some other element or capitalism.
        When the truth is undeniable, they will anoint someone from the Left as the ‘child in an Emperor is Naked scenario’ and promptly offer a solution(s) that favors them.
        They have no shame or compunction or anything.  They have become an unyielding 24/7 propaganda machine with the benefit  a disinterest/lazy public and have permeated all levels of media and eduction beyond the news and college ‘humanities’ into music, comedy or even web based tech shows.  They are Stalin in our time.

  • So, I accidentally stumbled into this site … and immediately felt the need to clean my shoes off.  This is a Republican shelter, yes?