The Flinchum File
Thoughtful Economic Analysis and Existential Opinions

Why did we send in the clowns?

11/14/2009

Late last year, a client wisely predicted that China would emerge from the crisis before the U.S. His reasoning was interesting. He thought that great problems require great decisions, but that the U.S cannot make great decisions like China, which is governed by engineers, while the U.S. is governed by lawyers. I’ve thought about this alot!

Yesterday, I heard from David Gergen, advisor to five different U.S presidents, of both parties. He pointed out that our founding fathers intentionally created a difficult legislative process. However, they had no expectation that the process would later be made ever more difficult with (1) the problem of filibusters, requiring 60 votes instead of 51, (2) the complexity of requiring CBO analysis of all spending bills, (3) the pointless “food fights” created by the media to sell advertising and (4) the “quiet conspiracy” between Republicans and Democrats to protect safe seats during re-districting every ten years, which pushes candidates to the extremes instead of the center.

If the founding fathers could have seen what would happen, would thay have made the legislating process so difficult? But is it too late to send in the engineers?

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