Blogs > Liberty and Power > Are These Your Representatives?

Nov 27, 2004 10:51 am

Are These Your Representatives?

The big spending bill going through Congress—the one that would have authorized the chairmen and staffs of the appropriations committees to look at anyone’s tax returns—once again makes the point that congressmen don’t read the bills they vote on. The House had passed the bill before the so-called representatives realized it contained that offensive provision. Once it was discovered by Democrats, the Senate passed a repeal bill. The Republican leadership chalked its inclusion up to bad drafting. Yeah, right. The Democrats are upset and are demanding that no bill be voted on within three days of passage by a committee. The Republicans are resisting that demand. Would you buy a used car from these people?

The incident shows what a fraud so-called representative government really is. Most people have no time to monitor"their" (ha!) government. The bigger it is, the less practical monitoring it becomes. Even if they had the time, their one impotent vote means there would be no payoff from investing the effort. Moreover, politicians have myriad ways to obscure what they do and to make it difficult to change things even if people found out. (They got caught this time—an unusual occurrence.) For elaboration of this important point see Charlotte A. Twight’s great book Dependent on D.C.

The upshot is that any resemblance between civics-textbook government and reality is a mirage.

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