Friday, February 15, 2002

Checks and balances

The Founders put some ingenious checks and balances into the Constitution. But they didn't put in enough of them. What could these be?

Well, imagine if only the people who voted against a given bill could vote on the appropriations for it. There would be problems, but presumably there would be a bias against spending, and we could use some of that.

Or how about limiting the eligibility for voting to the people who would be affected. If you, say, wanted to reintroduce wolves to Yellowstone, then only Congressmen from Montana, Wyoming and Idaho would be able to vote. He no playa da game, he no maka da rules...

Alternatively, we could demand that the bill affect the home districts of all who voted for it, so we could reintroduce wolves to Marin County, Manhattan, and other treehugging liberal bastions. We'll see how convenient it is to live by their own rules - surely some of these places were wolf habitat once upon a time. But for lobbying organizations, there is no penalty for a Congressman in my district to vote to screw you over in your district, and campaign finance reform legislation is aiming at this feeble restraint.

We have to list ingredients on food packages. How about requiring a listing of all the taxes applicable and their amounts? That's lousy because it raises the cost of doing business, but I think a lot of eyes would open if people realized how much of their money was going to taxes how often, and how much it cost to stay in compliance with tax laws and other regulations.

What if, in return for the franking privilege, Congressmen had to include on their mailings the total amount of spending they had voted for, and their rank in Congress?

What if Congressmen had to take a test on any legislation they were to vote on, and they would not be permitted to vote for the legislation until they passed it?

Enough. I'm just trying to get some ideas flowing.

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