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Maybe We Aren?t Poland After All

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  • Maybe We Aren?t Poland After All

    A few days ago I wrote a column on the parallels between gridlock in Seventeenth Century Poland and the current United States Senate. My tentative conclusion was that we might have come to the place where nothing short of a rule change would break things free.

    And things need to get broken free. Unless you are a hard-core anarchist, odds are you have experienced frustration over the inability of Congress to do anything lately. Public opinion polls show frustration across the political spectrum, and no wonder. If this sort of obstructionism means the current Congress cannot pass anything, then what are the odds that the current minority, whenever it becomes the majority again, will be able to do any better? Somewhere between slim and none.

    How bad is it? According to a recent report in The Hill, the House has passed 290 bills which have gone to Senate and quietly died there. The list includes, “healthcare reform; climate change; food safety; financial aid for the U.S. Postal Service; a job security act for wounded veterans; a Civil War battlefield preservation act; vision care for children; the naming of a federal courthouse in Iowa after former Rep. Jim Leach (R-Iowa); a National Historic Park named for President Jimmy Carter; a bill to improve absentee ballot voting; a bill to improve cybersecurity; and the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.” The House is actually getting things done; it’s the Senate where things have stalled.

    But this last week things seem to be changing, and it ...


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  • #2
    Three points.

    1) Perhaps the reason that the Congress is gridlocked is because the public is also undecided as to what specifically to do about any particular issue. It is easy to make generalized statements such as we need change and get general agreement on that. It is very hard to get general agreement on the specifics of what that change is. Since the nation is divided on these things, our representatives should be as well.

    a bill to improve absentee ballot voting; a bill to improve cybersecurity; and the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.
    2) You can name a bill anything you want to name it. But just by using the word "Improve" or "Protect" in a Bill's title does not mean it will actually do these things.

    3) Most of the time the absolute best thing you can do for the economy is leave it alone. Constant tinkering creates uncertainty and that is very detrimental to the economy. As one of my Econ professors used to say, "Often bad rules that are stable are better for the economy than constantly changing good rules".


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