Monday, November 9, 2009

Disempowering Rather than Disbanding Congress

Contrairimairi just sent me an e-mail about a Natural News post by Mike Adams. The author argues that because of electronic telecommunication:

"...instant communication is available to almost everyone. A new law being proposed in Washington could be instantly read -- and voted on -- by the People all across America. The Internet has made the whole purpose behind the U.S. Congress obsolete... irrelevant. Why do Americans need someone else to represent them when we can all just read and vote on the bills ourselves? In an age of instant communications, Congress is no longer needed."

The author misconstrues the reason for republican as opposed to democratic government. In fifth century Athens, 2,200 years before the American revolution, direct democracy did exist. The problems were not a matter of communication because Athens was small. Aristotle did not see democracy to be as good as aristocracy. He had seen democracy first hand in Athens. The problems with it were severe. They had to do the emotional nature of groups and mobs; the willingness of the populace to succumb to tyrants; and the eagerness of opportunistic poor people to steal the property of those more successful than themselves. Crowd psychology is easily manipulated. Lynchings and mass murder have been associated with democracy as well as tyranny (which Aristotle saw as the perverse form of monarchy). Aristotle preferred aristocracy to democracy, but held that a mixed form of government is most preferable.

The Founders were aware of these arguments, and equally, were concerned with Aristotle's claim that democracy amounted to rule by the needy. The many will not acquire as much property as the few, and will pass laws to deprive the competent and successful of property, arrogating it to themselves. This will cause the economy to deteriorate as competent people cease to put forth effort.

In our world, the existence of electronic media permits elites to manipulate public opinion in their favor. The ease of communication that television and the Internet permit means that hundreds of millions can think like a single mob. Plans like the bailout and the health insurance bill will seem on the surface to support the poor, in the case of the bailout to prevent unemployment and in the case of the health care bill to make coverage universal. But the effect of these laws is inevitably to further the ends of economic elites.

More democracy gives greater power to the elite power structure. The power of the mass media is too great for bloggers to compete. Even conservative bloggers allow the Wall Street-dominated mass media to control the terms of public debate and harp endlessly about the brain-dead mass media. They do not trust themselves to generate their own ideas, and remain slaves of the Wall Street power structure.

Charles de Secondat, Baron of Montesquieu developed the idea of mixed government further. He argued that the republican form of government is best supported by a federation or federal form of government. The Founding Fathers studied Montesquieu carefully. The Swiss provided an example of a federation that was stable.

The Founders argued that the mixed form of government would work best, and they were right. The American republic has lasted longer than any other.

But Aristotle argued that all forms of government are unstable, and that they transmute into each other. We are seeing that now. The instability began with Progressivism, which enhanced the amount of democracy. The high degree of democracy led to the manipulability of public opinion by the power elite and the increasing amount of lobbying and special interest power. Repeatedly, led by the left (whose impulses, including its advocacy of socialism have repeatedly served Wall Street's interests), America has instituted laws that seem to serve the mass but instead serve the wealthy. This has led to the same pattern that will result from Mike Adams's plan in Natural News: more democracy on the surface coupled with greater power in fact to the power elite.

A better approach would be to disempower Congress. That means reinventing federalism to download power to the states and end Congress's ability to pass the bullsh*t laws that is has. Spin off the federal regulatory structure to the states (including social security) and allow each state to decide how to pass laws. The competition that will result will infinitely improve decision making.

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