The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

If Only We’d Smaller Political Units Than Congress. We’d Need A Lot, Though, Perhaps As Many As We’ve States.

Posted on | November 3, 2014 | 69 Comments

by Smitty

I get a kick out of the people getting all fretty about expanding the House, the size of which has been frozen in time since 1910, emphasis mine:

I tend to rebel against the idea of adding even more members of Congress. Having nearly 700 of them squabbling over everything from major national policy to what to call the french fries in the cafeteria just gives me the willies. But I suppose there might be some benefits to consider. There are currently more than 700,000 people in each district on average. That’s a lot of folks to convince if you want to run for office, and competitive House races can get nearly as expensive as Senate races, which narrows the pool of people who can realistically take a shot at it. It’s also hard to make your voice heard to the representative when shouting from a crowd that large. And, at least in theory, the races would be more competitive.

The problem isn’t so much the inter-state and international policies that seem so contentious with Congress. Rather, all the social engineering nonsense brought in by the Progressives.

The explicit value of expanding the House of Representatives is to make it more representative. You know: its job. All of the difficulties in building consensus with an unwieldy number is a feature: we’re likely to move in the direction of a more Parliamentary-style House (and aren’t Europeans held up as an exemplar for us?). That is, our purported “two party” system (Progressives and Other Progressives) would face intellectual competition. That competition would force the House to focus on truly interstate and international issues, and leave the individually targeted (vote-buying) issues at the state level, where those casting votes are more accountable to those taxed to pay the bills.

The implicit value of expanding the House would be in affording employment to all of the federal civil servants, so they have something to do with themselves as we cheerfully whack all these deadwood federal agencies (e.g. the Department of Education) in the glorious future of conservative reform. OK, I’m  in my happy place now.



69 Responses to “If Only We’d Smaller Political Units Than Congress. We’d Need A Lot, Though, Perhaps As Many As We’ve States.”

  1. Weirddave
    November 4th, 2014 @ 3:01 am

    No, nuh-uh, forget it. You ain’t sticking us with DC. Better idea: Give PG and Montgomery counties from Md. along with Fairfax and Loudoun counties from Va. to DC. Create a 51st state. This would turn both Md. and Va. pretty solidly red. (The rest of Md. can offset blue Baltimore if PG and MC are gone)

  2. Adobe_Walls
    November 4th, 2014 @ 3:11 am

    Most of the big PACs are issue oriented on both sides and are way out in the open. They have to be careful about not appearing to coordinate with the campaigns. Others like Harry Reid’s PAC are dedicated to electing dem senators. Lobbyist represent the same issue groups like environmentalists or gun rights but also directly represent business interests all across the money making spectrum. They’re like serpents slithering around Capital Hill offering everybody apples. Many times they’re right there with the staff helping write legislation. They’re all supposed to be registered and their financials are public record. But you have to dig for pertinent info like records of meetings that influence legislation. PACs scream bloody murder at and about each other all the time. You don’t hear much from lobbyists about other lobbyists.

  3. Adobe_Walls
    November 4th, 2014 @ 3:16 am

    At least Virginia has a river separating it from DC. Not that it’s helped much in the last twenty years. But driving from DC into MD, you can’t even tell unless you notice the signs.

  4. NeoWayland
    November 4th, 2014 @ 8:32 am

    Yep, I am a dreamer. Proud of it too. I even keep a journal for the important ones.

    I’m also someone who has had to sit through budget pre-meetings and meetings asking for more funds so I could hire more people.

    Somehow I don’t think the public sector makes that any easier.

  5. Weirddave
    November 4th, 2014 @ 9:50 am

    The stoplights go from horizontal to vertical.

  6. Art Deco
    November 4th, 2014 @ 10:12 am

    You have three problems with state borders:

    1. A number of them bisect metropolitan areas.

    2. A selection of states are dominated by a single metropolitan area with the remainder of the state holding tributary status.

    3. Other states not so dominated have been rendered a patchwork of incongruous parts with the interests of one part of the state slighted systemically.

    4. Some states are demographic behemoths.

    Examples of category 1 would be the New York – New Jersey border, the New Jersey – Pennsylvania border, the Pennsylvania-Delaware border, the Maryland – DC – Virginian border, the Missouri-Illinois border, the Kansas-Missouri border, the Oregon – Washington border, the Illinois-Indiana border, and the Indiana-Kentucky border.

    Notable examples of category two would be Illinois, New York, Massachusetts, Hawaii, and Rhode Island. Examples of category three would be Maryland and California. Examples of category 4 would be California, New York, Texas, and Florida.

  7. Art Deco
    November 4th, 2014 @ 10:12 am

    Correction: four problems.

  8. Art Deco
    November 4th, 2014 @ 10:19 am

    One thing you might attempt would be to retrocede DC and then reconstitute Maryland and Virginia into confederations. You divide Maryland into greater Baltimore, the Washington annex, and the remainder and divide Virginia into Northern Virginia and the remainder. There would be some residual common institutions but for the most part the components would lead separate lives. You could then have an interstate compact which would federate the two components of greater Washington. So, you would have two ceremonial states (with congressional representation apportioned to each) but four effective provincial units (greater Baltimore, greater Washington, residual Maryland, and residual Virginia).

  9. Art Deco
    November 4th, 2014 @ 10:40 am

    As a city grew, you used to have municipal annexation and incorporation of peripheral settlements within city limits. That disappeared in New York and New Jersey (and most places outside the South) during the 1920s.

    What you could do at this time would be to redraw county boundaries. Set the county boundary at the limits of dense settlement (with a threshold of, say, 730 persons per sq. mile) and adjust it decennially. In lieu of a county government, you would have a metropolitan government. The metropolis would be a federation of municipalities with fixed boundaries (bar the floating boundary on the settlement exterior). There would be a division of labor between the center and the component municipalities. You might vest the center with the police force, child protective and foster care, some spare land use regulation, the transit authority, arterial roadways, interstitial and downstream services, and other duties as assigned by an assembly of municipal councillors. Your municipalities would be the default service providers and land use regulators and do everything not delegated.

    The situation in core cities varies a great deal, but it’s usually not true that they are pits of poverty. In New York City, about 30% of the resident population are to be found in problematic neighborhoods. In a less encompassing core city like Rochester, it’s about 50-50. You do have some core cities which consist predominantly of slums (e.g. Detroit), but that’s atypical. Also, problematic neighborhoods are much more notable for their troublesome social metrics (crime) than for income deficits per se. Income levels in the Detroit municipality are about 55% of metropolitan means, and that’s about as bad as it gets among American metropolitan settlements. When I was growing up in Rochester, income levels in the inner city were about 15% below the metropolitan mean. The city’s residents were distinguished by life-cycle and race, much less by income.

  10. Finrod Felagund
    November 4th, 2014 @ 11:08 am

    Personally I’d go the other way. Take the part of Virginia that was given to DC then given back to Virginia and put it back in DC again.

    Think of DC as a quarantine for the federal government– look at what NoVA is doing to the rest of the state. Better to isolate it with DC and make Virginia red again.

  11. K-Bob
    November 4th, 2014 @ 12:06 pm

    While we’re fantasizin’ about changing the system, I thought I’d throw in a shot at the “conventional wisdom” thinking that refuses to recognize what era we’re in.

    Jack Welch made a comment the other day about how it’s time to take a look at Ted Cruz for 2016. Lot’s of hearty amens and hell yeahs all around. Cool.

    But we do get the anti-Cruz trolls. The obvious ones are the “he isn’t eligible,” ones, who gamely try to float the same arguments they were hammered for the last time. Boring. But the other kind we get (other than one chap who insists Cruz is pro-Amnesty for some weird reason) are the, “We need a governor!” folks.

    Personally, I’m guessing they are in the tank for Christie, and are simply trying to lodge that meme into people’s heads. But it’s been Conventional Wisdom that mostly governors get elected. Of course, that’s only in “modern” times. If you go back past Eisenhower, you start seeing more senators, VPs, and cabinet members, including one, Taft, who was “Secretary of War” before being elected President.

    When “W” was running for office, I really wanted a solid executive in the Oval Office. Some are claiming we must have that now. Here was my response to such a claim:

    George W. Bush was a very good CEO. He’s probably the best-trained “Executive” ever to hold the office, having been the first one with an MBA from Harvard, Governor experience, and [ having been ] being a CEO of a company.

    So he streamlined a few departments, and kept the lights on. He was a decent Commander In Chief of the military. Other than that, he failed to defend the Constitution, failed to work toward Restoration, failed to lead his own party, and failed to be a leader of the Conservative movement, which he claimed to be in.

    That’s not good enough for the times we’re in. Not even close. This isn’t about maximizing the performance of the American Enterprise. It’s about Restoring the foundations of liberty and getting our Constitution re-established as the law of the land.

    If we don’t do that, the American Moment is over.

    Why would I prefer someone who’s great at making sure all the departments are well run while the entire country descends into chaos? Forget that. We need a leader who understands why he’s there, not an administrative genius who hopes not to screw up.

    I’m tellin’ yah, it’s time to kick conventional wisdom to the curb.

  12. Adobe_Walls
    November 4th, 2014 @ 12:11 pm

    First; your plan assumes that failing cities deserve to be and should be saved by whatever means available.
    Second; this only enables cities to steal someone else’s tax base. In short re-distribute someone else’s money. A city’s suburbs have no moral or financial reason to save cities from their own fiscal and regulatory miss-governance. Even worse the cities would only squander the new revenue on vanity downtown redevelopment and municipal unions.
    General; cities form, grow and thrive for sound economic reasons. When their initial reason for existence expires and isn’t replaced, they die for sound economic reasons. People don’t flee city limits solely for enhanced lifestyle and the Mayan city states didn’t collapse because everyone moved to the suburbs. NY city has lost much of it’s economic base but still does well because it’s tax base is inflated by Wall Street. Detroit’s downtown renewal may attract some people to move there but isn’t enough to attract the economic enterprises needed to save it.
    Making tax slaves of suburbanites will not save the cities nor recreate their reason for existing in the first place.

  13. Adobe_Walls
    November 4th, 2014 @ 12:44 pm

    In my opinion Christie is right where he belongs, New Jersey.

    With that out of the way I’m thinking a governor is a must. That Bush wasn’t a conservative isn’t a good argument against governors. Dole, McCain, Hillary and Obama are good arguments against senators, at least ones without some executive experience. Former Secretary of State, now there’s an idea.

    Secretary of State used to be a stepping stone to the presidency though the last one to do this was James Buchanan a Democrat.
    Between Him, Carter and Obama you have what must be the top three picks for worst president ever, so Hillary would certainly be perfect for making that three point triangle into the perfect square of suck. Holding that post might count as executive experience for some if she’s opposed by a legislator in the primary or the general election.

  14. K-Bob
    November 4th, 2014 @ 2:50 pm

    My point is it cannot be “a must” at this time. The one, overarching “must” is someone who believes in liberty with all their heart, including the notion of self-sovereignty, and limited government.

    When you look at the majority of “big name” governors other than those named Palin, it’s clear that precious few of them fit that requirement. Of the few who do, including Palin, most will not manage to campaign well in 2016. Perry has been improving, but he still comes across as kind of uncertain about the basics when it comes to the American Experiment.

    Moreover, all of the presidents together have shown that executive experience is simply not enough to lead something as massive as a nation. The best leaders have been men who hold to principle and try to educate the public while leading by example. Some of the worst have been governors (Wilson, Carter, Clinton).

    This notion of the necessity of governors is not a well-supported position to take, either historically, or based on the actual needs of the nation.

  15. Art Deco
    November 4th, 2014 @ 3:17 pm

    No, it assumes that metropolitan settlements are a discrete physical unit distinct from the surrounding contryside, that metropolitan settlements have various sorts of neighborhoods and that the better and worse neighborhoods are distributed around the tapestry of municipalities due to historical factors or the vagary of housing markets. It also assumes that municipal services vary in the optimal scale of delivery. Some benefit from central co-ordination and control, some do not.

    Public goods are public goods. It does not matter if the scale of your authority is a small town with 2,000 people in it or a metropolis with 600,000 people in it, public goods are characterized by non-rivalry and non-excludibility. That being the case, you’re no more stealing from your neighbors if your service provider is a suburban town with 40,000 people in it or your service provider is the county government. That’s just inflammatory tripe.

    There is not some grand significance to most suburban boundaries. In New York, they are accidental, just where they happened to be when municipal annexation was discontinued in 1924. Nearly all but one or two suburbs in an ordinary metropolis will contain a mix of types in different proportions. You’ll have a couple of upscale suburbs where the population is pretty thoroughly bourgeois, but otherwise suburbs are a social mix. Same with the city, just that the city has slums as well and tends to collect people without dependent children (at the beginning and at the end of their adult life).

    You would not regard the tax revenues as stolen unless you considered city residents to be some other subspecies.

    Pretty ugly, chum.

  16. Adobe_Walls
    November 4th, 2014 @ 5:04 pm

    The densely populated suburbs just outside the city limits and taxing authority are the minimum distance one had to run, to get away from that cities government. There are reasons why they went that far and no farther, regardless of why those communities first started. Are you asserting that the primary purpose of expanding city jurisdictions or creating regional authorities isn’t funneling suburbanites tax dollars into the cities? Detroit went from the highest median income of any city in the US to one of the lowest in a relatively short time frame. This didn’t happen because of an inability to expand geographically but because it’s economic reason for existence is gone. Finding ways to inject more funding from elsewhere is a fools errand.
    Nice try with the sub-species crack.

  17. Adobe_Walls
    November 4th, 2014 @ 5:20 pm

    Reduce the federal government substantially and you’ll kick some of the blue out of NoVA. I grew up in Arlington. I can assure you they have no desire to reacquire DC citizenship.

  18. Adobe_Walls
    November 4th, 2014 @ 5:25 pm

    So we make these areas states?
    I’m sure we can do much worse than Senator Marion Barry.

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