Sunday, May 09, 2010

Notes on Federalism

(fm the BC thread "R-Utah")

bogie wheel,
A desire to repeal the 17th is not based upon a romantic assessment of State legislatures. Quiet the opposite since state governments are generally founts of corruption. With few exceptions you should be able to string barbed wire around any state capital in America under the assumption that people who live there must be guilty of something. The problem unintended consequence with the 17th Amendment was that it moved the corruption of the States into the Senate by two means;

1. it interjected the apparatus of urban party politics more directly into national politics in a manner that made all politicians more dependent on the money and power of parties and outside, increasingly national or even international, interests,

2. it eliminated the system of checks and balances that had served as some brake on corruption by a local political machine.

The Federal government could be usefully occupied in prosecuting corruption at the local level. If the Senators were not directly elected machines controlled by national or even trans-national interests then other state interests and the national interest of the Department of Justice would find it easier to investigate and prosecute politicians in local cesspools. The same general argument applies to the election of the President. The decline of the Electoral College has been accompanied by the increase in corruption and outside manipulation. That reached a climax in 2008.

One reason that state governments are so corrupt is that they have no real authority except to arrange side payments. If more power was transferred back to the states then there would be more pressure to replace the current crop of hacks with serious lawmakers. Kicking power upstairs rarely works. The solution for the feckless conduct of the NY City Council is not to transfer all local oversight to Albany. The remedy for the venality and incapacity of the NY State Legislature is not to transfer its duties to Washington.

(who criticized an incoherent comment)
#34 by my count, was something moved?.

Also re Ari Tai's plan, there is something ghastly in the willingness of people in the name of ideological purity to continuously chop and shuffle associational units like the states. It traces back to the murderous logic of the French Revolution. That does not mean that smaller states would be a bad idea but we need to encourage more historical associations and attachments, not fewer.

There is a good argument for doubling or more the size of the House of Representatives to combat the vices of gerrymandering. If the UK's House of Commons was 50% larger then the damage caused by tactical voting and the dozen some cases where the Conservatives lost by less than the UKIP vote would have been no bar to a clear Tory victory. The Lib-Dems while repudiated at the polls are benefiting from constituency sizes based on the number of places to sit in Westminster.

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