Saturday, September 29, 2007

Quick Answer to a Quick Question

What the hell, rather than respond in the comments to brad's item below, why not use my posting ability?

The questioned passage:

It is, however, a very good argument for federalism--devolving power down to the level of the states wherever possible. That makes legislators much more directly responsive to their constituents.

Please note that I've not read Ms. McArdle's item, & might not in any way, shape or form agree w/ whatever she's espousing. I'm offering a lesson in clarity, & in not writing like a high school freshman trying to increase the word count. And my clearer, simplified version may be wrong. She may well believe that the result of federalism, as she wants it defined, will be more responsive legislators, rather than thinking that this devolution of power is good because state legislators are already more responsive.

Imaginary speech from high school teacher: "Now do you see where sloppy writing gets you, Miss McArdle? I'm afraid that this paper only deserves a 'D,' but since you're such an overgrown elf, I'll let you slide with a 'C-,' and the advice to get a copy of The Elements of Style, by Strunk and White."

Simple, clear version:
But it is an excellent argument for federalism — as newly defined by The Federalist Society, not the traditionally understood definition — that is, returning power to the states, whose legislatures are usually more responsive to their constituents than Congress is.

I mean, "devolving power down to the level of the states" is about as awkward & redundant a construction as could be imagined from any one being paid for their typing. (Believe me, I've seen worse from Internet amateurs.) Next thing I expect from McMegan is the use of "returning back" or some other such redundancy.

And in passing, let's add that state legislatures & executives may be more responsive to their constituencies than Congress & the executive branch are, but they're also much more responsive to bribery, & excessively responsive to the interests of businesses & industries that may already dominate the economies of individual states. Note that even U. S. Senator Biden had to vote for the bankruptcy "reform" bill a couple of years ago, because of the influence of credit card companies headquartered & operating in Delaware. Or note the dominance of my own state of California at the turn of the last century by the Southern Pacific railroad, as shown in Upton Sinclair's The Octopus. Indeed, the SP's ownership of the state's gov't. was one of the reasons we have the statewide ballot initiative to this day.

This reporter may be back later w/ some clear & simple Megastats, & exciting links, depending on the how game is going between one of his many alma maters, the University of Spoiled Children (well, at least my father graduated there, even if I didn't) & the University of Washington, on whose campus he used to smoke reefer way back when. Ah, nostalgia.


Fishbone McGonigle said...

Hmmmm. Here in the Sunshine State, our legislature has been so responsive to the voters that we've routinely had to engage in Government Via Constitutional Amendment Referendum. That worked out well enough for a while (well, except for the constitutional amendment that mandates humane treatment of pregnant pigs, which you have to admit is a weird item to find in a 21st-century state constitution), until the state legislators got wise to our habits of approving every single amendment we could vote on. Then they presented us with an amendment that stipulated that all future constitutional amendments would require a supermajority for passage.

Naturally, we passed it.

Now, I understand the need for limiting direct modification to the state constitution, but I also think the whole "supermajority" approach is antidemocratic. But at any rate, this never would have been an issue if McArdle was right about the responsiveness of state legislatures to the voters. The whole "supermajority" requirement is quite clearly a tool designed to protect the power of the legislators to ignore the voters, which in turn protects their ability to accommodate the rent-seeking behaviors of their corporate benefactors.

In other words, she is once again talking out of her elfin ass.

M. Bouffant said...

Indeed. Heh. In the Golden State, our greatest legacy from ballot initiatives has been the infamous Proposition 13, cutting property taxes so much that our schools are totally screwed up, although lack of money isn't the only reason.

That's overgrown elfin ass.

I used to see the guy in your profile picture all the time in the early '70s at S. F.'s own Committee improv group. Any special reason you chose Hesseman, or was it more Dr. Fever?

Fishbone McGonigle said...

Dr. Fever was an early role model for me, much to my parents' chagrin . . .

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