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Ron Swanson's Top Ten List

Thursday June 23, 2011
ron swanson Have you watched the NBC TV Show: Parks and Recreation? It is an absolutely hilarious satire of state and local government, lobbying and politics. The Head of the Parks Department is a character named Ron Swanson. Ron is a libertarian who believes in minimal government, yet he is the head of the parks department. This irony sets up some classic comedy. In any event, Mr. Swanson fiercely defends individual liberties, so does the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. They have just published their annual index of economic and person freedom in the 50 States. I wonder why there is not more lobbying going on around some of the issues raised in this report. For example, in Maryland where I live, we score high on economic freedom but low in personal freedom. For a highly "blue" state, this seems odd to me. Is it that people are unaware of how they are regulated? Does anyone care about personal freedom or even know what that means? Comments are always welcome. You can find the report here. Take the political philosophy quiz. Where do you score? nlan chart

Health Care is Out as a Business Opportunity

Sunday February 6, 2011

As the 112th Congress begins, I am wondering where new business is hiding. Last year, the Health Care debate drew in an incredible number of diverse interests who, for the most part, propped up the lobbying industry during the recession. Where is business coming from now? According to CQ Moneyline Analysis, lobbying revenues are down.

The Roll Call article above points out that the farm bill is coming up next year and that financial firms are continuing their efforts. I have friends lobbying the various trade bills. But I am not sure what other revenue engines are floating around out there. With the 2012 election cycle about to kick into high gear, I expect Washington to slow down as it usually does during presidential elections. What is going on in the States? Please share your opinions about the business of lobbying.

Fun and Games

Saturday February 5, 2011
Do you want to be president of the United States, on the Supreme Court, a Member of Congress? Whether you do or not, you can play one on the Internet. Go to the iCivics website and play their games. They are a ton of fun. iCivics "is a web-based education project designed to teach students civics and inspire them to be active participants in our democracy. iCivics is the vision of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who is concerned that students are not getting the information and tools they need for civic participation, and that civics teachers need better materials and support." Justice O'Connor is right. The problem is bigger though. This has been going on for years and now we have an adult population that is ill prepared for civic participation. Check out the site, encourage others to go play the games. They are not just for kids.

Responsive Government

Friday February 4, 2011

Rex Nutting argued in an article for Marketwatch.com that we should abolish the United States Senate because it is aristocratic and blocks the democratic process. After reading the article, I think he believes that the Senate is responsible for gridlock in government.

The Senate exists as a check on the will of the majority. It is a great concept and was an accommodation to those founding fathers who believed that equal representation was a better form of government that proportional representation. Mr. Nutting has correctly identified a major problem in the United States; our government has become very elite. The problem is not the Senate. It was always intended to be an elite legislative body. I submit that the actual problem in Washington is the fixed size of the House of Representatives.

The founding fathers intended the House of Representatives (the People's House) to grow in proportion to the growth of the U.S. population. In 1791, a Member of Congress represented about 50,000 people. Today, Members of Congress represent over 700,000 people. If we kept that same proportion, the House of Representatives should have 6300 members.

In 1929, Congress decided to fix the size of the House at 435 members. What has happened over time is that our Members of Congress represent so many people that they only respond to those who they know, who support them, or are large interests in their districts. The diverse views of the 300+ million people who live in the United States are completely shut out. The House has simply become a larger Senate. A body made up of 435 largely millionaires, representing 700,000 people each. We do not need to abolish the Senate, we need to increase the size of the House. I do not know what the right number is, but 435 is too small and is the reason why "special interests" and we lobbyists wield such influence. What do you think?

Interesting reading: Thirty-thousand.org; Constituency Size and the Growth of Public Expenditures; We Need a Bigger House.

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