L. Neil Smith's
Number 351, January 22, 2006

"Down With Tolerance!"

Congressional Reform
by Jay P Hailey

Exclusive to TLE

A lot of noise is being generated by the congress about reform in light of the latest scandals.

As much as I like to see congress critters squeal and hide from the consequences of their actions, and I do, the fact of the matter is this—they aren't and won't address the fundamental causes of the problems with Congress

A lot of people reading The Libertarian Enterprise are anarchists—they will, with some justification, say that the main systemic problem with Congress is that it exists and that it's members are still, for the most part alive.

I am an Anarcho-capitalist myself on alternate days, so I can dig this point of view.

On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, though I am a Minarchist, (On Sundays I take a day off and don't give a crap—unless some one asks and then it's a random thing)

An organization called "Downsize DC" has a neat idea that largely addresses the issue—


But Doug Thompson explains part of why it ain't gonna work—



The two problems that the articles above address one by solution, the other by description, link back up together.

Running for office is expensive and demands piles of money.

Lobbyists pony up piles of money, but he who pays the piper calls the tune.

So Congress things legislate to please the sources of their money.

They'll listen to people who come into the office behind large checks by far in preference to those of us who just offer votes.

They create huge, bloated, obscure and mind numbingly complex bills with dozens of digressions and additions (see the definition of "log rolling" on the Downsize DC webpage).

Many of the bloated, complex and obscure additions to any random bill are actually crafted by lobbyists to support their various industries.

Congress things use these additions as bargaining chips, holding out their yay and nay votes in exchange for this hidden madness.

So—why are congressional races so hugely expensive?

Because they're being bid up in the free market—any given Lobby knows that if they throw their support to a friendly congressman, they'll have bought a running start in the influence and legislative auction.

So each seat and its holder become hot commodities. By definition, having the right corrupt law maker at the right place can benefit any given industry to the tune of millions or billions—or else they simply wouldn't plunge the millions of dollars into the auction.

And so the problems roll back into each other

Congress thrives on the systematic dysfunction—it's worth big money to them. It's worth big money because they can benefit the buyers.

This stems from the birth of this country and evil, evil people like Alexander Hamilton and Congress bastard Henry Clay.

In the 1800's through the 1830s there was a huge debate about whether the government should interfere in the market to protect and nurture American business. This was called "The American System". It has Antecedents in the pre revolutionary colonial governments and previous arrangements.

With the Eerie Canal and the later Railroads this debate was largely settled in favor of (surprise) the guys with the deepest pockets, who'd reap the biggest benefits from having the government wrapped around their fingers.

What we see now with the Abramoff corruption scandal is the latest flowering of the bush that was planted when The Federalists opened their fat mouths.


So we'll see things like "reform" which changes the name plates on a few desks, and rearranges a few of the deck chairs on the leviathan, but things like Downsize DC's "Read The Bills Act" will not get passed.

It's like asking any other business to voluntarily vote to do itself in. No congress thing is going to turn loose of his leverage, his bargaining position and his product for high rolling bidders unless a metaphorical or a literal gun is put to his head.


So what's the solution? My inner Minarchist says "We need to make sure that language like the RTBA is included as factory equipment on the next Constitution."

My inner Anarcho-Capitalist snorts derisively and waits for the shooting to start.

The fact of the matter is that I don't know.

I just wanted to point out what an amazing pile of horse crap the latest "reform" movements in Congress are.

Thanks for listening.


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