Re: Federalism Sucks

1

Anti-federalist.*

*But completely opposed to the Anti-Federalists.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 6:56 PM
horizontal rule
2

Just checking, I'm mildly Becks-style. The post makes sense? (Found a very nice cheap red: Tinto de Anfora. Ten bucks a bottle, tastes like twenty. We need to remember to buy a case or two before the price catches up.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 7:02 PM
horizontal rule
3

I sure don't.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 7:02 PM
horizontal rule
4

Need states, I mean.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 7:02 PM
horizontal rule
5

2: It does not show the hallmarks of most Becks-style writing.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 7:06 PM
horizontal rule
6

5: I agree. You're going to have to drink much, much more if you're going to be deemed a credible commenter.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 7:08 PM
horizontal rule
7

Excellent. I'm off to work on that, then.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 7:09 PM
horizontal rule
8

States, Good God y'all
What are they good for?
Absolutely nothing
Say it, Say it, Say it


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 7:15 PM
horizontal rule
9

State-level government has the advantage of overly influenced by land developers and auto dealership owners (as is the problem with local government), or by rubes from South Carolina and Kansas (as is the problem with the Federal system).


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 7:18 PM
horizontal rule
10

People! Tell me and Blume what Spanish or Portuguese wine to buy for our wedding! It should be spicy, like us.

Go!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 7:18 PM
horizontal rule
11

Unless you want to talk about federalism, I guess.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 7:19 PM
horizontal rule
12

More details on the wine-advice request: We're looking for one white and one red. For a midday brunch/lunch meal in the middle of the summer.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 7:19 PM
horizontal rule
13

Hey, hey! Pacing! If this were the all-LB-all-the-time blog, it would be called "The Awesomester Blog", not "Unfogged".


Posted by: paranoid android | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 7:20 PM
horizontal rule
14

It's too bad there are no internet food blogs.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 7:21 PM
horizontal rule
15

As opposed to all the blogs found not on the internet.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 7:22 PM
horizontal rule
16

Besides, people know what they're talking about over here.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 7:23 PM
horizontal rule
17

NY State does not suck totally. It employs some good people.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 7:25 PM
horizontal rule
18

15: I actually had an extended version of 14 that anticipated the joke, but then I decided just to leave it as a set up. I'm sure everyone's interested in the drafting history of that comment.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 7:27 PM
horizontal rule
19

And now we know the rest of the story. Buh bye.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 7:30 PM
horizontal rule
20

Anyway, on the original topic, there is a case to be made that while states might have too much autonomy, it's good that they're all (formally) equal to each other. The borders are all a mess, so the mythical constitutional convention should redraw them, while keeping the states equal, but less powerful.

Alternatively, you could have different administrative regions for different functions (some things by watershed, some things by airborne pollution patterns, etc.) but that could easily become its own sort of mess.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 7:38 PM
horizontal rule
21

I have an analog blog in my basement for anyone who's interested in seeing what they were like.

Subject to correction, I think that everywhere you look in American history that you look you will find that the energy behind states' rights comes from slaveowners and segregationists.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 7:40 PM
horizontal rule
22

Actually, I rather like federalism.


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 7:43 PM
horizontal rule
23

I'm generally OK with the concepts of states (in a role like counties are to states--smaller entities that really don't matter that much at the next level up) and even some theoretical concepts of federalism such as states as incubators of different ideas in government, like the Iowa redistricting scheme (but of course there are 5 very bad examples for every good one). So put me down for Federalism, the Good Parts Version ...

What really sucks in practice is the population differences (yeah I know Newsflash!). California's population is close to that of South Carolina, Louisiana, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee and Kentucky's combined. Imagine if that whole region had two Senators and California had 16.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 7:44 PM
horizontal rule
24

Also, I think the state university systems are, on balance, a superior model than either a localized or federalized public university model would be. State funding is less erratic and more equitable than local funding, while state oversight is more responsive, adaptable, and accountable than federal oversight would be. So, State Universities: a good thing.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 7:44 PM
horizontal rule
25

There were abolitionist/antislavery states rights people before the civil war. Leading to accusations that Vermont's restriction of the fugitive slave law, for example was like nullification.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 7:44 PM
horizontal rule
26

New Jersey has a population equal to five or six small western states.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 7:48 PM
horizontal rule
27

26: Yes, the equation in 23.2 is even more extreme if you use the interior Western states.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 7:50 PM
horizontal rule
28

25: They were basically trying to play their enemy's game, but nothing came of it in practice. State's rights only made a real difference when it was slaveholding states' rights.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 7:50 PM
horizontal rule
29

Maryland tried to claim States Right's to stay "wet" during Prohibition, because people in Baltimore like to drink.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 7:57 PM
horizontal rule
30

28: A big part of the reason nothing came of it for them was that (most) of the slaveholders went ahead and actually seceded. But that doesn't mean that pre-Civil War states' rights arguments were inherently slaveholders' arguments. The 1850s federal government wasn't doing a hell of lot for abolitionists.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 8:03 PM
horizontal rule
31

My gut-level sense of the local/state/federal debate is similar to the legislative/judicial debate: Most of us (myself decidedly included) have certain issues that we prefer to see decided by one group, and others that we prefer to see decided by the other. Coherent arguments and underlying principles can be articulated for both, but internal consistency is pretty much impossible. To wit:

Local communities know best! Small is better, more responsive. Justifies:
- Wise local land-use planning
- Greedy, shortsighted and environmentally racist/unjust local land-use planning
- Breakway foreign-policy resolutions by the PRC of Berkley /Cambridge/FITB
- Breakaway domestic immigration enforcement by the Autonomous Regions of Riverside, NJ, and Hazleton, PA.

Wise minority judges should overrule crazed majority mob! Justifies:
- School desegregation
- Free-speech cases (e.g. Nazi march in Skokie, IL)
- Creationism in school curriculums
- Same-sex marriage [argument can be made both ways]

etc.



Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 8:23 PM
horizontal rule
32

Berkeley, right. Hey, at least I can spell Hazleton.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 8:26 PM
horizontal rule
33

I remember sitting in on a talk in Russian history where someone was arguing that the local control/autonomy position was usually the more liberal - as in tends to less repression - based on various examples from Russian history. I wanted to say, well sure, if the federal government is czarist autocracy or the communist dictatorship, local autonomy is often going to look pretty good, but if you're looking at segregation in the American south, you might think differently.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 8:39 PM
horizontal rule
34

12: Our white was a Zolo Torrontes. Light, fruity and just lovely, right around $10.

Our red was pretty good too but we drank it all. Sorry! I think it was a petit syrah.

ST if you're in LA at all there's a great wine shop in Glendale.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 8:40 PM
horizontal rule
35

Since what's known as Federalism today gives far less power to the states than the version discussed by our founding fathers, you can make a pretty good case that modern Federalism, as it exists here, in Canada, and to a greater extent in Europe has worked out pretty well. But the states' borders are all kinds of fucked up and need to be changed. Starting with the division of California.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 8:52 PM
horizontal rule
36

We should have real federalism -- a directly democratic society where delegates to federations were immediately recallable. Also, if there are going to be politico-geographical divisions larger than a couple of hundred square miles, they should be bioregional and based on watersheds.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 8:58 PM
horizontal rule
37

Oooh, I like the watershed idea, or at least basing the divisions more directly on geographical boundaries. The problem I see is that most watersheds have non-obvious boundaries from the ground. Big rivers are more likely to be boundaries because they actually serve as an impediment to travel, which is the exact opposite of the watershed idea.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 9:14 PM
horizontal rule
38

@John Emerson

http://features.csmonitor.com/environment/2009/01/26/obama-embraces-states-rights-on-auto-emissions/

Obviously segregationists...



Posted by: Adam | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 9:24 PM
horizontal rule
39

So federalism is out. What about feudalism, again?


Posted by: Tj | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 9:25 PM
horizontal rule
40

I made a historical point. By now states' rights is an established fact and anyone can and will use it for whatever purposes they have.

Historically, from the beginning until the present, before and after the civil war, Southerners proetecting their unique and wonderful way of life was the energy behind states' rights.

In any case, the headline was misleading and irrelevant. No legal principle was involved at all. Obama just nade an administrative decision not to continue a Bush policy.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 9:30 PM
horizontal rule
41

Weird. I just wrote a comment, which included more than just my usual burping noises. But it apparently got eated. Oh well, I'll try again:

The Constitution's tilt toward states' rights does stem, in part, from the power wielded by slaveholders at the drafting convention. But it also emerged out of understandable worries about agglomerated power, especially power concentrated in cities. Such concerns were a bequest of the the British Country Party, whose republican ideology inspired most of the founders. Also: Gordon Wood, blah, blah, blah.

As to whether we should scrap the whole document and start again, sure, why not? We can sell tickets, maybe even turn the spectacle into dinner theater. Can we change the country's name while we're at it? The United States of America is kind of, I don't know, prosaic.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 10:13 PM
horizontal rule
42

I propose "Americaland."


Posted by: JPool | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 10:17 PM
horizontal rule
43

Ooh, watersheds. Clever. Let's hash out the new government structure in this thread. We're collectively smarter than the people who drafted the Constitution, right?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 10:19 PM
horizontal rule
44

About the wines: what price range are you looking for?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 10:22 PM
horizontal rule
45

Maybe "Biff."


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 10:22 PM
horizontal rule
46

What about feudalism, again?

Feudalism has been much-maligned by reformers of various stripes ever since the invention of the modern printing press (if not earlier, but if so, the critiques did not circulate in an accessible format and have therefore not been well-preserved). But in its English version, at least (I can't speak of the continent), the feudal (or perhaps the quasi-feudal, since it was England, after all) system actually had some features to recommend it.

Yes, the local lordlings and squires enjoyed privileges that they did not of course deserve, but they also had to answer to their constituents ("their" people, or whatever) in a very immediate and immediately localized way. Yes, the sense of an ordered hierarchy was quite ridiculous (and thoroughly contrary to the modern universalising spirit of "the rights of man"), but at least the sense of obligation was at least somewhat reciprocal. It's not at all clear to me that John Bull the Sturdy Yeoman stood in relation to Squire Knightley the Local Mucky-Muck Magistrate in a worse, and less powerful, position than Joe Sixpack now stands in relation to the executives of Citibank. And the locals could, and sometimes did, cause real trouble, with food riots and such, which the squireens could ignore only at their own peril.

Probably the rise of a recognizably modern nation-state meant a real loss of local power and autonomy.

I once read a whole series of books on the English peasantry in the early modern period (so not really feudal, of course, but still...). What an eye-opener. Man, those English peasants were law-smart, and they did not hesitate to take their grievances to a court of law and try to sue the arse off their local lord of the manor if and when they believed their due rights and privileges had been undermined/neglected. Nowadays, nobody of a regular sort of people persuasion even knows where to start when they have a real grievance, nobody really knows who's really in charge, and it all seems so broadly and amorphously hopeless.

With feudalism, you at least knew who to blame, and perhaps even to sue.

[The above is almost pure satire, of course! but with an emphasis on almost].



Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 10:23 PM
horizontal rule
47

I have stated before that No one gives a rat's ass about the balance of power between the states and the federal government. I still think this is basically true.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 10:34 PM
horizontal rule
48

I'm just trying to picture a postfederal Albany. Shudder.


Posted by: Mo MacArbie | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 10:38 PM
horizontal rule
49

||
No more masturbating to Paul Harvey.
|>


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 10:39 PM
horizontal rule
50

49: You can't stop me that easily.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 10:42 PM
horizontal rule
51

I think my comment above is muddled and doesn't really get across what I mean to say, which is: is the bit about a constitutional convention serious? There's on the one hand "wouldn't it be nice if we woke up tomorrow and found ourselves in an alternate reality U.S. with a better constitution more suited to today's world?", and the answer is "yes, and also ponies!". And then there's on the other hand "wouldn't it be a good idea to, admitting our constitution is imperfect, get together and work out a better one?", where I personally think the answer is "oh hell no", for reasons I might feel like elaborating on if I could tell whether anyone was seriously asking the question to begin with.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 10:44 PM
horizontal rule
52

The part about living so close to subsistence levels that there was a need for food riots - that was the best part of feudalism. Sadly, feudalism these days has been reduced to arrangements for cell phone contracts and health care plans.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 10:45 PM
horizontal rule
53

50: Branching out from sheep again?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 10:45 PM
horizontal rule
54

53: Sheep are for when I'm in the mood for company; Paul Harvey is for when I want to be alone.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 10:52 PM
horizontal rule
55

44: we don't know! Maybe ten dollar range? What range should we be looking for? We think Spanish or Portuguese might let us bang more people for the buck. (Or something. I'm transcribing Blume, here, and maybe she said something else involving "bang" and "buck"?)


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 10:56 PM
horizontal rule
56

I may be alone, but I love vinho verde. It's ridiculously cheap, a little bubbly, great for summer parties.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 10:57 PM
horizontal rule
57

You can't stop me that easily.

I'm willing to take a more difficult and circuitous path, Ari, if that's what it takes to stop you.

On the food riots: probably E.P. Thompson was just being sentimental when he opposed the "moral economy" of the (implicitly, all that is good and true) crowd to the "political economy" of the (laissez-faire, and latter-day glibertarian) technocrats. But I guess he had a point.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 10:58 PM
horizontal rule
58

I say no wine recommendations until we're all guaranteed invitations to the wedding. Quid pro quo, Mr. Tweety.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 10:59 PM
horizontal rule
59

56: I think we have that wines-that-bubble end of the spectrum covered.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 11:00 PM
horizontal rule
60

56, 59: No, I was thinking along the same lines. Vinho verde is nicely light, great for hot weather.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 11:03 PM
horizontal rule
61

Okay, everybody's invited. The wedding's July 4th at the White House. Just tell 'em Allah sent you, and in lieu of gifts, there's nothing we'd like more than a belt full of firecrackers.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 11:03 PM
horizontal rule
62

60: I defer to Blume. Like, duh.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 11:04 PM
horizontal rule
63

I also think vinho verde is nice to wean people off the champagne. No one should drink a great deal of champagne or they'll get sick as dogs. Vinho verde tends to be light on sugar, and the bubbles are just barely there. Plus, it's like $4/bottle so you can be generous with it.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 11:10 PM
horizontal rule
64

No, no, no, no, no.

California's medical marijuana. Massachusetts' health care. Montana's right to privacy. Oregon's voting by mail. Vermont's civil unions.

Folks who think federal rule, with localities as administrative units, is a good idea ought to come talk to a resident of DC. (Notwithstanding Yg).


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 11:10 PM
horizontal rule
65

We think Spanish or Portuguese might let us bang more people for the buck.

Look into Chilean wines. I had a specific recommendation, but I drinked it.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 11:50 PM
horizontal rule
66

Second Charley. Federalism is fantastic, and it's tragic/foolish that the U.S. has not been able to make real use of the strengths of the system. The Canadian health care system started out as a provincial experiment, same with the U.S. unemployment insurance system, etc. The "laboratories of democracy" element of regionalism can be really, really valuable, as can the genuine responsiveness to different regional preferences on how to live. Why can't we have a quasi-Sweden on the West Coast sharing the same nation as a right-wing haven in old south? A lot of the bitterness and stupidity in national politics could be avoided thereby.

The original tragic flaw in American Federalism was of course the slavery issue, which forever associated the freedom of state-level self-government with the "freedom" to violate the basic human rights on your inhabitants. There is also the problem that states aren't regular sized enough -- ideally they should be fewer and larger. But even beyond all that, there is an unhealthy expansion of the power of the Federal government in the 20th century. This ended up pre-empting most of the states tax and fiscal base, tying down the states in a ton of legal restrictions on what they could do, and focusing public attention so completely on DC that state governments don't get the coverage and attention that are so valuable in keeping government on track, getting good employees and pols, etc.

Also, may I add that if LB worked in the Federal government she'd realize it's really fucked up as well.

Also, if there are going to be politico-geographical divisions larger than a couple of hundred square miles, they should be bioregional and based on watersheds.

the environmental romanticism on the left is really getting out of hand.



Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 11:54 PM
horizontal rule
67

64 has it. Add California's emission standards.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 11:56 PM
horizontal rule
68

And no red wine outdoors in the middle of the summer. A good rose, lightly chilled.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 11:56 PM
horizontal rule
69

Part of the Founders' vision was that by having the states duke it out, they would be less able to restrict the freedom of the inhabitants of the USA in general.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 02-28-09 11:58 PM
horizontal rule
70

I'd say that in theory, states should be either a lot smaller or a lot bigger, and, most importantly, they should all be roughly the same size. Given that, I see no reason that some form of Federalism couldn't work well.

In practice, I think smaller states do tend to have more of the qualities (good and bad) of local governments, including the ability of small groups of troublemakers to make big changes. New York may not be able to handle local problems using detailed local knowledge, but Rhode Island can.

Also, without Federalism there would be no Nevada, in any sense. And who wants that?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 12:03 AM
horizontal rule
71

To argue against myself in 66, the U.S. is by now culturally adapted to national-level government (people move a ton, are not that locally rooted, and live in lots of states), and I'm underestimating the issue of individual industries finding it easier to capture lower levels of government.

This is what happens when you're up at 2 AM, you debate with yourself about federalism on Unfogged.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 12:04 AM
horizontal rule
72

I wonder what the credit cards would do without Delaware.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 12:05 AM
horizontal rule
73

Different policy goals are best achieved at different levels of local control. So, for instance, urban planning is probably best accomplished at the state level, where you aren't dealing with NIMBYism to the same degree. Is there really an ideological breakdown on this? Or even a good government breakdown? Having government at multiple levels of locality interacting with polity at multiple levels of direct engagement seems like one of those things with details with the devil in them, no?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 12:06 AM
horizontal rule
74

49 to 19.

No one should drink a great deal of champagne or they'll get sick as dogs

Oh dear God. Bite your tongue, woman.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 12:08 AM
horizontal rule
75

70 -- Yes, add Nevada's concept of sin to my comment above.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 12:08 AM
horizontal rule
76

Here's a map of US watersheds. Those actually seem pretty plausible as potential large political divisions. They seem to correspond pretty closely to cultural areas.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 12:08 AM
horizontal rule
77

I wonder what the credit cards would do without Delaware.

ah, you see, the Delaware credit card thing is the Federal government's fault. It's Federal level rules that force the states to allow companies chartered in other, low-reg states to operate nationally.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 12:14 AM
horizontal rule
78

If the states were roughly the same geographical area, the population differences would be more extreme, which would be problematic from a representation standpoint. There would still need to be some balance between size and population.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 12:14 AM
horizontal rule
79

74: Jesus! Help us with the wine!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 12:14 AM
horizontal rule
80

There's a fair amount of diversity within large states without each locality having constitutionally enshrined rights against their own states. A weaker sort of federalism does not mean stripping states of all difference and imposing total homogeneity. You could still have an administrative region try something new with emission standards, but they'd be allowed to do it on a statutory rather than a constitutional basis.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 12:16 AM
horizontal rule
81

I look forward to Babb, Montana become the capital of the new watershed-based state of Napi.

[But then debating wholesale changes to state boundaries is like arguing fine points of Klingon grammar.]


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 12:17 AM
horizontal rule
82

Dude, email me; I can call in my sommelier/wine consultant friend. What did you decide on for bubbly?


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 12:18 AM
horizontal rule
83

I wonder what the credit cards would do without Delaware.

Move to Connecticut, probably.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 12:18 AM
horizontal rule
84

77: I thought those rules were the result of federalism, though. The federal govn can't force states to have the same rules, so it ends up having to let one state's rules apply to all the others. So it's just enough federalism to give states like Delaware an incentive to write rules to favor the credit cards, but not enough federalism for other states to be able to tell Delaware-based companies to that their laws are different and must be abided within the state.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 12:20 AM
horizontal rule
85

If the states were roughly the same geographical area, the population differences would be more extreme, which would be problematic from a representation standpoint. There would still need to be some balance between size and population.

There are various ways this could be addressed. One would be to have states be large geographical areas with varying populations for purposes of local control, but having national representation be purely proportional (i.e., something like having only a House of Representatives at the federal level). Not ideal, but no worse than what we're got.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 12:20 AM
horizontal rule
86

Also: Gordon Wood, blah, blah, blah.

Yeah, but Peter Onuf, blah, blah, blah.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 12:22 AM
horizontal rule
87

Living where I do, I like the watershed idea. What's that, California/Intermountain West/High Plains? You'd like some of our water? Gosh, I'm sorry, you don't look very sustainable. How much is it worth to you?


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 12:23 AM
horizontal rule
88

84 -- It's section 85 of the National Bank Act.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 12:26 AM
horizontal rule
89

88: Well that sucks. Can the Senate be blamed?


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 12:29 AM
horizontal rule
90

(Although it turns out to be a example of statutory-based diversity among the administrative regions states, I guess.)


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 12:34 AM
horizontal rule
91

The Senate can always already be blamed.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 12:34 AM
horizontal rule
92

Sure. Although the NBA passed the Senate by only two votes. 23-21. I blame Sen. Majority Leader Henry B. Anthony of Rhode Island.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 12:36 AM
horizontal rule
93

I dunno, it seems Sen. Anthony (a) was not actually majority leader, since that position didn't exist at the time, and (b) made an early attempt to limit the use of the filibuster. Is there someone else we could blame?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 12:45 AM
horizontal rule
94

Of course, the south wasn't around for that vote.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 12:50 AM
horizontal rule
95

Carp has his reasons for hating on Henry B.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 12:51 AM
horizontal rule
96

Of course, the watershed as states idea totally screws the Great Basin (Nevada and some of Utah). What, I'm sorry, you don't actually have any water at all? Too bad.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 1:11 AM
horizontal rule
97

Which reminds me of the classic Sam Kinison routine: "See this? This is sand. NOTHING GROWS HERE."


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 1:19 AM
horizontal rule
98

They don't have a whole lot of people, either.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 1:34 AM
horizontal rule
99

You might also blame the Burger court/


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 2:43 AM
horizontal rule
100

Can I point out that the `do you think you are smarter than the framers' thing is incredibly stupid; the framers could stand chattel slavery; quite clearly you do think you are.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 3:23 AM
horizontal rule
101
Posted by: | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 3:43 AM
horizontal rule
102
Posted by: | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 3:50 AM
horizontal rule
103

Sifu -Entirely endorse AWB on vinho verde, but you need to do some research, as different wines are better in different years (you drink the stuff the year it's made.) I'm sure the prospect of such a research programme will break your heart.

If you want a spicy Iberian red, the world is at your feet, but look for something that uses the traditional varietals (they're spicier, on the whole). There's more than enough Cabernet Sauvignon in Bordeaux and California without encouraging the Spanish to ship more stuff that tastes like second rate claret.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 5:03 AM
horizontal rule
104

I note for the record that the idea of replacing states with a set of administrative units (numbered, like MIT buildings) is a hobby horse of one Mickey Kaus. I think he just wants to simplify the law school curriculum.

I'm somewhat Burkean (or is it Oakeshottian) on the idea of scrapping the federal constitution and starting over. So the status quo has some drawbacks? Sure, but what system doesn't? In any event, our constitutional conception of federalism has shown itself capable of adapting to changed circumstances, eg post New Deal interpretation of the Interstate Commerce Clause.

Internationally, federalism seems to be on the march, and not just in conflict-ridden states (Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan), but also stable democracies (India, Brazil, Mexico, United Kingdom, and even the originator of the centralized nation-state, France). The common thread seems to be that there is a cost to making control of the central government too attractive; it raises the stakes of national political rivalries to dangerous levels.

Personally, I like the German version of federalism. The states have broad authority over certain competencies that are critical to sustaining democracy and the rule of law: education (primary, secondary, tertiary), broadcast media, police, criminal courts, cultural affairs, while the central government sets policy on welfare, economic regulation, environmental regulation, and tax policy. The states are VERY limited in the revenues they can (or are expected to) raise themselves, so there is less of a temptation to race to the bottom on taxes and social welfare spending. A share of national tax revenues is allocated to the states, with richer states subsidizing poorer ones. The states get a voice in determining the national tax policy because the governments of the respective states appoint the representatives to the upper house of the netional parliament, which must concur with tax and spending bills.

I wouldn't say the German model is ideal (for example, it has a version of the California/Wyoming problem), but it's one of the better ones I'm familiar with.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 5:09 AM
horizontal rule
105

Why can't we have a quasi-Sweden on the West Coast sharing the same nation as a right-wing haven in old south?

Why can't we have a free Confederacy descending into Central American helplessness and misery? If we're stuck with federalism, I want secession too. Austin, Chapel Hill, etc. could migrate North. But we'd need to stay in the middle east then to cut off Texas from its oil -- or maybe we'd just give the Iraqi-Texan oil to Russia and the Anglo-Dutch cnsortium and watch Texas dwindle.

The liberal pro-federalism argument seems to assume a Southern-dominated USA, which is what we more or less have, with liberals ekeing out patches of civilization in the odd state here and there. Not a good bargain.

A House Divided, etc. You already have the horror stories about gay couples having accidents travelling in the South and not having next of kin rights, or losing their families.

Federalism ruins and corrupts the central government too. Not only do the shitty little states have too much leverage in the Senate in terms of their own actual interests, those states are special interest targets, because their Senate seats are the cheapest to win and hold with moderate amounts of pork and laughably small campaign contributions. (Look at the Daschles' connections.) And if an interest group moves a branch to a small state, then they can lock it up.

If you merged ND, SD, MT, WY they'd be the size of Iowa or Mississippi -- they'd STILL be overrepresented with two Senators. (They MIGHT gain a Congressman).

I've just been reading about the contortions Roosevelt had to go though to get his program past his Southern "supporters". Not pretty at all. Social Security and unemployment insurance were explicitly design to benefit the poorest of the poor, especially black Americans, as little as possible. (Pre-Roosevelt Democratic Party regulars were conservative even in the North; a lot of Roosevelt's support came from outsiders.)

Of course, you could just say that the US was doomed from the start by the heritage of slavery, but federalism made it worse.



Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 6:34 AM
horizontal rule
106

I can't imagine anyone looking at France in 1868, and thinking that scheme was a success.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 6:42 AM
horizontal rule
107

The key words on Social Security are "Lundeen Bill", for example Why can't we have a quasi-Sweden on the West Coast sharing the same nation as a right-wing haven in old south?

Why can't we have a free Confederacy descending into Central American helplessness and misery? If we're stuck with federalism, I want secession too. Austin, Chapel Hill, etc. could migrate North. But we'd need to stay in the middle east then to cut off Texas from its oil -- or maybe we'd just give the Iraqi-Texan oil to Russia and the Anglo-Dutch cnsortium and watch Texas dwindle.

The liberal pro-federalism argument seems to assume a Southern-dominated USA, which is what we more or less have, with liberals ekeing out patches of civilization in the odd state here and there. Not a good bargain.

A House Divided, etc. You already have the horror stories about gay couples having accidents travelling in the South and not having next of kin rights, or losing their families.

Federalism ruins and corrupts the central government too. Not only do the shitty little states have too much leverage in the Senate in terms of their own actual interests, those states are special interest targets, because their Senate seats are the cheapest to win and hold with moderate amounts of pork and laughably small campaign contributions. (Look at the Daschles' connections.) And if an interest group moves a branch to a small state, then they can lock it up.

If you merged ND, SD, MT, WY they'd be the size of Iowa or Mississippi -- they'd STILL be overrepresented with two Senators. (They MIGHT gain a Congressman).

I've just been reading about the contortions Roosevelt had to go though to get his program past his Southern "supporters". Not pretty at all. Social Security and unemployment insurance were explicitly design to benefit the poorest of the poor, especially black Americans, as little as possible. (Pre-Roosevelt Democratic Party regulars were conservative even in the North; a lot of Roosevelt's support came from outsiders.)

Of course, you could just say that the US was doomed from the start by the heritage of slavery, but federalism made it worse.

The key words on Social Security are "Lundeen Bill", for example here. (Klehr fails to note that the horrible Communist Lundeen Bill was, by any humane, civilized standard, superior to what we ended up with, and that the New deal actually did ratify Southern racism, in part by recognizing federalism.)


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 6:43 AM
horizontal rule
108

Federalism is fantastic, and it's tragic/foolish that the U.S. has not been able to make real use of the strengths of the system.

See "Actually Existing Federalism" on Standpipe's blog.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 6:46 AM
horizontal rule
109

It's Federal level rules that force the states to allow companies chartered in other, low-reg states to operate nationally.

Red card.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 6:48 AM
horizontal rule
110

Taking in the 10 Canadian provinces as states would go a long way towards curing the legacy of slavery. Not likely -- especially considering the selfishness of our friends to the north (do they want to save humanity or not: those are the stakes) -- but more likely than major adjustment of state boundaries, or a constitutional convention that gets rid of the Senate.

Seward was right! Annex Canada!


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 6:48 AM
horizontal rule
111

107 is terribly garbled by a fucked cut-and-paste + a failed deletion. It sould read:

The key words on Social Security are "Lundeen Bill", for example here. (Klehr fails to note that the horrible Communist Lundeen Bill was, by any humane, civilized standard, superior to what we ended up with, and that the New deal actually did ratify Southern racism, in part by recognizing federalism.)

You people stay up too late.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 6:56 AM
horizontal rule
112

Blume and Sifu -- my brother is a wine consultant. Get in touch and I can ask him about it, too. (I've been really digging the Raventos cava, if you want to do Spain for your bubbles, too.)


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 7:01 AM
horizontal rule
113

For all its flaws, I rather like federalism. It'd be nice to trim states to similar sizes, but the people of California seem quite happy with gross under representation in the Senate (unless I've missed moves to split the state, which I may well have).

The laboratories of democracy idea is quite a good one, and the Feds can step in when things get too far out of line.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 7:06 AM
horizontal rule
114

By the watershed rule I'd only have to move 30 miles to be Canadian, which would make half my family Canadian.

My own real idea about all this is that global finance and military factors trump everything, and that not merely local issues but all domestic issues of any kind have to fit themselves into the space allowed them by the strategic planners and financiers. Reading about failed American anti-war movements back to 1898 has been Ground Hog Day Eternal Return of the Same depressing, and throwing in the Indian Wars and the Mexican War wouldn't help. I guess we did avoid a few possible wars with Canada after 1812, and that's nice.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 7:11 AM
horizontal rule
115

|| Sif was alluding above to the fact that I am a descendant of the Anthonys of Rhode Island. (And before that London, in which place one of my earliest ancestors pursued a medical practice heavily dependent on treatments with gold.) I'm more closely related to Henry Bowen Anthony through the Bowens -- the Senator was my contemporaneous ancestor's 4th cousin. |>


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 7:16 AM
horizontal rule
116

Federalism gave us the electoral college, and in turn George W. Bush, and also a lot of small-state corruption and bullying. when Republicans strut around about Real America they're talking about their extra rural votes in the Senate. Knowing that you have an unfair advantage is good for the self-esteem, and it makes gloating even more fun that a clean victory would.

As far as the small one-Congressman states go, in my analysis Vermont is a liberal win, RI and Maine are unknown, and Delaware, Connecticut, ND, SD, MT, WY, and AK are losers. DE and CN are losers because of insurance and finance corruption.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 7:18 AM
horizontal rule
117

I am approximately Ralph Waldo Emerson's fifth cousin six times removed. He didn't come to the last family reunion. I hear that he may have died.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 7:22 AM
horizontal rule
118

RI has two congress critters. At least. Langevin, Kennedy, and is there another?


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 7:24 AM
horizontal rule
119

Seward Franklin was right! Annex Enlist Canada!

(Now one of the historians is going to come along and patiently explain to me why this history that I half-remember from reading 15 years ago is wrong. But it said Franklin led a group up to Canada to try to convince them to join our war! It did!)


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 7:40 AM
horizontal rule
120

I thought Franklin failed to convince them.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 7:43 AM
horizontal rule
121

I thought Franklin failed to convince them.

It's been 230 years. I'm pretty sure they've changed their minds by now, especially since they can see our awesome health-care system.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 7:46 AM
horizontal rule
122

Aaron Burr unsuccessfully invaded Quebec, attempting to turn the French against the English. He skilfully accumulated enemies all his life.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 7:47 AM
horizontal rule
123

The Constitutional Convention bit is serious, but I'll admit I've only thought about it on the level necessary given that it's not plausibly going to happen -- if it were slightly more realistic, I'd worry about the practical implications bit more than I do.

Part of what's driving this from my point of view is that I really, really dislike legal fictions. New York is in no practical sense a sovereign state and legally treating it as such is ridiculous. But that isn't a policy argument, just something that affects my personal sense of tidiness.

I don't really buy the laboratories of democracy argument; if there are states, some are going to make better decisions than others on policy matters. But pointing at good state level decisions doesn't show that they balance all the bad ones.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 8:03 AM
horizontal rule
124

Wingers have a Constitutional convention once or twice a year somewhere in the US, usually in rural Montana or Idaho, sometimes in upper Michigan. They usually feature muzzle-loaders, white lightening, buckskin outfits, and shirtless men with fat hairy bellies.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 8:08 AM
horizontal rule
125

If there were a constitutional convention today, Christianity would be installed as the state religion.

When George Will was asked what he would change about the constitution, he said he would insert the word "political" in the first amendment, so that only political speech would be protected. His voice would be prominent in any new constitutional convention.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 8:10 AM
horizontal rule
126

So the status quo has some drawbacks? Sure, but what system doesn't?

I agree. Canada has the same problems (they didn't get Bush, but they do have Harper) in a slightly different form. Instead of people whining that Wyoming gets two Senators despite having no population, you get people whining that Alberta makes lots of money but doesn't have the population to see that Ottawa spends it properly.

The other thing that strikes me as suspicious is the claim that moving to this system would ensure that progressive goals would win the day. ("You may assume the pony is a perfect sphere...") Rural votes haven't always been aligned with the goals of the contemporary Republican party. So I am suspicious of justifications to reform the government based on progressive jerrymandered regions.

I'd rather see the size of the House increased to approach something like actual representation.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 8:24 AM
horizontal rule
127

If there were a constitutional convention today, Christianity would be installed as the state religion.

Not to mention the Second Amendment. Actually, come to think of it, we'd up reifying the shredded Bill of Rights.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 8:28 AM
horizontal rule
128
Posted by: | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 8:37 AM
horizontal rule
129

The House is too large as it is. A House member represents 1/438 of 1/2 of 1/3 of the formal government, i.e. 1/2628 of the formal government. Of the House members, maybe 20- 40 have any power at all. And a lot of real power is vested in entrenched bureaucracies, above all the military and the Federal Reserve, in the media masters, the party bureaucracies, the big donors, and various shadowy people in the background like Grover Norquist and Charles and David Koch. (Plus George Soros and the Anglo-Dutch Consortium, of course.) I don't see much point in diluting Congress any further.

I could almost see turning Congress into the place in the federal government where mayors and governors have a vote. As it is, we have two disjunct kinds of local representation, which is mad-dog federalism.

One thing Congressmen can do is retail voter service, running interference for individuals with the VA, Passport Service, etc., getting a few earmarks, etc.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 8:38 AM
horizontal rule
130

The way I see it is that the Senate and the House were meant to be in opposition to each other: one representing the interests of the states, the other of the people, and what we've done now is ensure that people don't have as much individual representation. It would dilute the power of the individual Congresscritter, but would mean more power to the actual population.

I also think that a popular measure that passed 1400-100 in the House would be more likely to pass the Senate, psychologically.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 8:46 AM
horizontal rule
131

125: Yeah. The argument seems to boil down to: "Let's get rid of the states 'cause big mobs are more rational and less destructive than small mobs".

(While forgetting (among any number of other things) what the national reaction to 9/11 bought the US)


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 8:51 AM
horizontal rule
132

If there were a constitutional convention today, Christianity would be installed as the state religion.

That's assuming that the 30% deadenders would control the convention. Even I am not that pessimistic.

No matter how large Congress gets, its dominant cliques will remain small.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 9:13 AM
horizontal rule
133

Someone tell me again what our federalist system of checks and balances did to moderate the American response to 9/11.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 9:15 AM
horizontal rule
134

131: No. It's that one big mob is easier to keep track of than 50. The states aren't small enough to have any of the advantages of small mobs.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 9:22 AM
horizontal rule
135

Democracy is a pretty good idea and you people should try it.


Posted by: David Weman | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 9:33 AM
horizontal rule
136

I don't really buy the laboratories of democracy argument; if there are states, some are going to make better decisions than others on policy matters. But pointing at good state level decisions doesn't show that they balance all the bad ones.

This is a rather abstracted and deeply anti-political perspective. First, what a "good decision" isdepends on the desires of the constituency and how they want to live. That's a lot of the reason why we have politics instead of autocratic social engineering. Second, we really don't know in advance what a "good" decision is, seeing the effects of the policy in practice is important. Just objectively, a federal system offers more opportunities to vary policy based on the desires of local constituencies and also to examine the effects of policies on a smaller scale before instituting it for everybody.

(But I'll admit I sometimes wonder whether the real point of politics is to just to occasionally change out the autocratic ideologues at the top -- part of my argument above presupposes the possibility of truly functioning democracy, and we're a long long way from that).

84, 88: The National Bank Act is the precedent cited for this kind of pre-emption of one state's laws by another, but it's hardly *necessary* that it do so. (Unless you just take necessary as synonymous with business convenience). The real pre-emption started with a Supreme Court decision in 1978. See this history. I sort of think of Supreme Court decisions as just a straightforwardly political application of Federal-level power, not an interpretation of apolitical "law", so the 1978 decision was part of the general increase in Federal power at the time. ERISA happened around that time too.

129: Really good description of things. The Senate was originally intended to be the place where lower governmental units had representation (through the state legislature), now direct election has changed that. You can see why the Senate was created in our original Federalist scheme, but it really makes litte sense under the current actual system of government.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 9:38 AM
horizontal rule
137

Granted, I don't know anything about Germany's system, but it appears that restructuring the American system to be more like the German one would be a fairly radical change - even though we'd still call both systems federalism. But I would favor something that sounds more like the German system as Knecht describes it. Which is sort of what I was getting at way back in 20. So I guess I'm not against federalism, I'm for better federalism.

The way I see it is that the Senate and the House were meant to be in opposition to each other: one representing the interests of the states, the other of the people

The House and the Senate are supposed to be in opposition to each other, but unfortunately the justification is less coherent than one of the states, the other for the people. The Senate has equal representation from the states, but obviously doesn't vote in state blocks. (I love the states where the Senators vote almost completely opposite each other, while (formally) representing the same constituents.) The idea was more like, the House directly represents the people and the people can do all sorts of intemperate things, and we don't want to end up with a sort of legislative dictatorship, so we'll build in opposition with another deliberative body that's slower and even more deliberate by restricting membership to the better sort people with less narrow local perspectives, but we don't have an aristocracy and won't create one so it can't be like the house of lords, so we'll set it up on a basis of indirect election through appointment by state legislators which we think will result in a better class of people being chosen without messing around with formal qualifications to accomplish the same ends and---oh, you say that representation by population will be unfair to small states?, well then let's stick this compromise in there with 2 senators per state and then, um, sure that looks ok, we're done.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 9:38 AM
horizontal rule
138

I just crudely redistricted the country, figuring 8-9 Congressmen per state. (I didn't do Alaska or Hawaii, who'd you merge them with?)

In the West, MT ID WY ND SD NB KS OK UT NV lost 14 Senators. TX IL CA gained 14 Senators. Republican / swing states lost about 9, Senators, Democratic / liberal states gained about 9.

The South would break about even, but Florida would gain.

The small states of the east (incl NH and Maine) would lose about 8. The big states (incl OH) would gain about 12.

On the net it would be an enormous Democratic/ liberal gain.

Quick and dirty, YMMV. The numbers don't add up exactly, partly because I divided a few states and skipped a couple.

Things like these make America what it is. Not the average American or public opinion or the national character, unless institutions are character. Likewise the veto points in Congress have been mostly used for the benefit of the South. (We should have let them abolish the filibuster. We gained nothing by that Lieberman-brokered compromise. They probably knew they were lsoing Congress when they offered us that wonderful compromise.)


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 9:41 AM
horizontal rule
139

Of the House members, maybe 20- 40 have any power at all.

Very true. Maybe the number is somewhat greater if you count the ability to monkey with more obscure regs and earmark local appropriations. Everybody else just lobbys those guys (and gals).


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 9:41 AM
horizontal rule
140

Also, in 1812 Jefferson wrote to someone that he thought taking Canada would be a "mere matter of marching."


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 9:42 AM
horizontal rule
141

135: When we had it in Minnesota it was all just Swedes and Finns and Norwegians and Danes and Germans anyway. They've all Americanized by now and Minnesota is now converging to the mean. Democracy is not natural to the U S of A.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 9:45 AM
horizontal rule
142

I love the states where the Senators vote almost completely opposite each other, while (formally) representing the same constituents.

Minnesota has a lot of conservatives, a lot of liberals, a lot of flakey contrarians, and not too many moderates. It's almost a double-hump state, not bell-curved at all. So the Senate seats can swing wildly.

I even wonder whether as a result of the standoff we've also developed a whole voting demographic which can swing from one extreme to the other, sort of bi-extremists. I know individuals and families that seem to work that way.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 9:52 AM
horizontal rule
143

Americans refer to the US as the oldest democracy and no one ever calls early 60s America as anything but a democracy. That's OK, everyone whitewashes their past. But they also frequently count say Britain in 1850 as a democracy, and that's not OK at all. Democracy and government-by-electorate isn't the same thing and the difference is worth shedding blood over.


Posted by: David Weman | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 9:58 AM
horizontal rule
144

no one ever calls early 60s America as anything but a democracy

Except for those people at the time who liked to say "it's a republic, not a democracy." I've seen it used as a conservative slogan in support of unpopular and (eventually) losing ideas, but I suppose it's available for anyone to say.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 10:05 AM
horizontal rule
145

Somebody should do a post about Obama's budget. It's surprising in its scale and ambition and represents his first clear break from DC conventional wisdom (liberal variety).


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 10:08 AM
horizontal rule
146

I suggest that LB deputize PGD to do that.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 10:09 AM
horizontal rule
147

100 Can I point out that the `do you think you are smarter than the framers' thing is incredibly stupid; the framers could stand chattel slavery; quite clearly you do think you are.

If this is to my 43, that isn't actually where I was going, but I never explained because I went to sleep before getting a reply to 51. I think it's actually trivial to assemble a group of people who are collectively better at coming up with a scheme for government that could work well in the U.S. of today, free of the weird baggage in the constitution. What would be highly nontrivial would be getting the people of the U.S. to accept it. The framers had the key advantages of first, having a new country which clearly needed a constitution (let's not get too hung up on the details of the Articles of Confederation, for this argument), and second, having the sort of widely accepted moral and political authority that comes from helping to lead their country to independence. Today, the group I would want to assemble to design a new constitution would be viewed by the public as a bunch of liberal egghead latte-sipping elites.

But yes, mostly I'm with 125 and 127: I think if we did organize a new Constitutional Convention, the odds of getting a better government would be slim; I think it would be hijacked by conservatives and by corporate interests.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 10:17 AM
horizontal rule
148

We have much better tools for generating consensus and group decisions than the founders. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: what's needed is a constitution wiki.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 10:36 AM
horizontal rule
149

Democracy is a pretty good idea and you people should try it.

You wouldn't believe the import taxes....


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 11:03 AM
horizontal rule
150

I don't understand John. First, you think the system is undemocratic, then you think the solution is fewer representatives?

I think it's come up here before, but the cube root rule works pretty well. We should have ~700 representatives. Senators should represent the state legislatures, not be directly elected. We should split a few states, and while we're dreaming, I like the annex the Canadian provinces idea.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 11:21 AM
horizontal rule
151

Emerson: you should read this. .

We believe that economics has been trapped in a sub-optimal equilibrium in which much of its research efforts are not directed towards the most prevalent needs of society. Paradoxically self-reinforcing feedback effects within the profession may have led to the dominance of a paradigm that has no solid methodological basis and whose empirical performance is, to say the least, modest. Defining away the most prevalent economic problems of modern economies and failing to communicate the limitations and assumptions of its popular models, the economics profession bears some responsibility for the current crisis. It has failed in its duty to society to provide as much insight as possible into the workings of the economy and in providing warnings about the tools it created. It has also been reluctant to emphasize the limitations of its analysis. We believe that the failure to even envisage the current problems of the worldwide financial system and the inability of standard macro and finance models to provide any insight into ongoing events make a strong case for a major reorientation in these areas and a reconsideration of their basic premises.

Unfortunately, none of the authors is an econ professor at a major American university.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 11:21 AM
horizontal rule
152

||
Finally got around to parodying more verses:

Come all of you good muggles,
Good news to you I'll tell
Of how young Harry Potter
Came to Hogwart's to dwell.

Which side are you on?
Which side are you on?

They say in Harry Potter
There's two sides at Hogwart's:
You'll either be a Gryffindor,
Or a thug for Voldemort.

My daddy was a wizard,
And I'm a wizard's son.
And I'll stick with old Dumbledore,
Until the magic's done.

Oh muggles can you stand it?
Oh tell me if it's true,
Did you know who the horcrux was,
Way back in volume two?

Watch out for the Death Eaters,
Don't let them touch your wand,
Help the Order of the Phoenix,
Hermione and Ron.

||>


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 11:42 AM
horizontal rule
153

144: it's a republic, not a democracy
The John Birch Society will sell you a bumper sticker that says so.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 11:44 AM
horizontal rule
154

153: Hmph. They don't have them anymore. Just Ron Paul literature.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 11:54 AM
horizontal rule
155

I bet you can get a "Chicago Tea Party!" bumper sticker, though.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 11:55 AM
horizontal rule
156

You can't blame Burr for the attempt, or failure, of the Quebec expedition.

Enlist Canada is right.

On the subect of the reaction to 9/11, there are any number of dogs that didn't bark. We didn't invade Iraq in 2001, or even 2002, and the Admin was forced to come up with a false, and, looking back falsifiable rationale for the thing. That falsity was a big factor in the speed with which support for the thing was lost, and enthusiasm for extending the crusade into Iran relegated to a fevered few.

I'll be the first to agree that arguing counterfactual history is an exercise only one click above arguing Klingon grammar (and thus ahead of suggesting that states be reformatted) but you can't have 'the current configuration had no effect' without allowing for 'without that configuration, the following bad things would have been pretty likely.'


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 11:58 AM
horizontal rule
157

hijacked by conservatives and by corporate interests

This was the knock on the last one, and rightly so.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 12:01 PM
horizontal rule
158

150: There's no way that more representatives would improve anything. There are already so many representatives that the power is all in the hands of a small number of insiders. With three times as many representatives, things would be worse, not better.

The problem with my own representative is not that he represents too many people. It's a remarkably homogenous white, rural district with few really contrasting interests.

The problem is that he's beholden to too many PACs, etc., and that both the national Democrats and the national Republicans support him because he carries water for both of them. I could easily talk to him if he wanted me to, but he doesn't because I don't give five-figure donations.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 12:01 PM
horizontal rule
159

151: Cosma already sent it to me. It's niece to see that the profession is starting to catch up with little old ignorant me.

Based on what Colander et al say in "The Changing Face of Economics", and what Coyne says in her "The Soulful Science" apologetics, it's just barely possible that these new ideas might be taught to undergrads by 2048 or so.

Who are the German authors? Is this a resurgence of the German historical school?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 12:06 PM
horizontal rule
160

I'm writing a Star Trek fanfic, where since Kirk now hails from Riverside, Mississippiana rather than Iowa, he is more racist, and pursues the Klingons with a maniacal fanatacism that detracts from his overall mission and dooms the chance for any future alliances.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 12:10 PM
horizontal rule
161

I'd gladly match Mike Mansfield against anyone Pennsylvania sent to the Senate during his career. Ditto Lee Metcalf. Jon Tester is worth any 4 of the last 6 PA senators combined, and even Max compares pretty favorably.

I wouldn't take New Jersey's senators over the last 20 years instead of North Dakota's. I don't know what problem you people think you'd be solving, but more mediocre pols from big states doesn't look like an automatic improvement to me.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 12:11 PM
horizontal rule
162

161: Ha -- Charley lays the smack down. Smaller state Senators can have more freedom of action because they tend to be beholden to smaller industries...Bernie Sanders just has to cater to Big Dairy, which leaves him a lot of freedom of action.

Hey, CHarley, you wouldn't have any free time to help me with a personal question, would you? I'm thinking you'd be a great advisor on this. We should have lunch sometime too, I've been collecting stories you'll appreciate. Contact me at address above, I just have your work email.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 12:20 PM
horizontal rule
163

I'm willing to grant that the non-attack on Iran was due to public opinion, but I'm not so sure that institutional checks and balances had anything to do with it. The Democrats were cringing even after the 1006 election. I'm more willing to believe that a group of generals got together and told Bush and Cheney no.

The 2003 attack on Iraq was decided on in mid or even early 2002. They had to wait for spring, and it took some time to get the supplies in place.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 12:21 PM
horizontal rule
164

Cosma already sent it to me. It's niece to see that the profession is starting to catch up with little old ignorant me.

I'd say your crusade against economics has been vindicated rather resoundingly. Unfortunately, analytic philosophy is not vulnerable to similar refutation by events.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 12:22 PM
horizontal rule
165

The Senate is one thing, but the Electoral College is what I was really thinking of.

Mike Mansfield is ancient history. I liked Frank Church, too, but something changed in 1980.

My theory of small states is the opposite, that they're easier to buy and more likely bought.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 12:25 PM
horizontal rule
166

||P, my work email is always the most effective. Yes, let's have lunch.|>

John, I think with a parliamentary system, for example, they'd have gone to Iraq in early 2002. They certainly wouldn't have had to bother with WMD and the UN.

We'll never know. K'pla!


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 12:26 PM
horizontal rule
167

Hey, World Cup Alpine event in Bulgaria today. Awful pretty country.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 12:33 PM
horizontal rule
168

Lindsey Vonn and Lindsey Van both won. Wiki has a disambiguation link on their pages.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 12:40 PM
horizontal rule
169

Bulgaria is the world's main producer of rose petals.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 12:45 PM
horizontal rule
170

The course is pretty wild. They have women's downhill on right now.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 12:55 PM
horizontal rule
171

159:I didn't ecignize the authors. Continentals have long been working on the basis of disequilibrium macroeconomics, which assumes the economy is out-of-balance, getting worse, and requires gov't intervention constantly, usually with large automatic stabilizers.

"Lafayette" today at Thoma's said bubbles can't be predicted. Peter Flaschel (German) & Carlos Chiarelli (ITA? maybe Australian) have added a quantitative variable to the demand function based on inequality and distribution of wealth/income, a "class" variable they think can help predict crises.
Course that's Minsky, and ignored in Anglo-econ.

There is no problem with economics that would not be solved, or at least trasformed into a different, perhaps more attractive problem, by changing the patrons of economists from banks/finance/industry to gov't & unions.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 12:56 PM
horizontal rule
172

I wish that someone would tell me which economists need to be impaled. DeLong says just the Chicago School, but I think that it goes farther than that.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 1:00 PM
horizontal rule
173

I wish somebody would too, because then you could go do it and stop talking about it.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 1:02 PM
horizontal rule
174

Instead we could talk about... humanzees!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 1:04 PM
horizontal rule
175

Heiner Müller spent a lot of time in Bulgaria, because his third wife was Bulgarian. Most of his works were translated into Bulgarian, and students read him in school.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 1:11 PM
horizontal rule
176

I'll probably have to start with Sifu for practice, just so I don't mess up when I get my first economist.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 1:18 PM
horizontal rule
177

Incidentally, I haven't commented on this thread because I was unable to express it articulately, but I do have a sense that politics is served by actors having some important affiliations that are determined arbitrarily or accidentally, and not chosen.

I think I, and the polity, am somewhat improved by being forced to consult Amarillo as well as my fellow urbanites in Dallas & Houston. IOW, states serve a function of instilling pluralistic attitudes all the way down.

Empirical evidence from multi-party proportional representation states being factionalized and unable to find consensus blah blah.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 1:18 PM
horizontal rule
178

Evil Christians (at Trollblog).


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 1:31 PM
horizontal rule
179

177: Dandelion-13!


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 03- 1-09 3:59 PM
horizontal rule
180

I'm surprised apo didn't link to this (via).


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 03- 2-09 9:39 AM
horizontal rule
181

Indeed, loads just fine.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 03- 2-09 11:06 AM
horizontal rule
182

Federalism is for lovers.
Anarcho-syndicalism is for lovers.
Monarchy is for lovers.
Kritarchy is for lovers.

Hmm.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 03- 2-09 11:08 AM
horizontal rule
183

Hmmm, it's working now. Huzzah!


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 03- 2-09 11:08 AM
horizontal rule
184

this thread goes to 182.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 2-09 11:08 AM
horizontal rule
185

181: Unfortunately M/tch will never know. I suppose we could just start taunting him here.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 03- 2-09 11:09 AM
horizontal rule
186

183: Damn there goes my chance to make fun of you behind your back.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 03- 2-09 11:10 AM
horizontal rule
187

Nobody tell 184 or 185 about 183.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 2-09 11:10 AM
horizontal rule
188

183-185: Just a complicated pwnage trap in the end.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 2-09 11:11 AM
horizontal rule
189

Also, don't tell 187 about 186.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 2-09 11:11 AM
horizontal rule
190

188: Hey, a fella's gotta have a hobby!


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 03- 2-09 11:15 AM
horizontal rule