Posted by Brad @ 1:28 pm on September 26th 2011

On the Need for Less Democracy

A Quote of the Day from Former Office of Management and Budget chief Peter Orszag:

To solve the serious problems facing our country, we need to minimize the harm from legislative inertia by relying more on automatic policies and depoliticized commissions for certain policy decisions. In other words, radical as it sounds, we need to counter the gridlock of our political institutions by making them a bit less democratic.

Essentially, he argues, very explicitly, that deficits, spending, and taxation are too important to leave in the hands of legislators or, by extension, voters. Rather, those powers should be automated or handed by the executive to minions who can simply enact, rather than seek approval (and thus, potentially get disapproved).

Now, I am not going to make the obvious point here. For that, go here. It should be obvious what that obvious point is.

The less obvious point: Dear Republicans. You own this. Make no mistake, by instantiating a governing culture wherein the executive can deem things, on his say-so and according to his definition of what is “vital” to the survival of our republican (be it national security or “economic security”), outside the boundaries of oversight, appeal, and checks and balances, you make possible a culture where the NEXT asshole to take office takes that same philosophy and merely applies it to something different. There is a direct line from “our national security is at stake and we need the flexibility to response to that challenge without the additional hang-up of, you know, laws and shit” to “our ECONOMIC SECURITY is at stake and we need the flexibility” blah blah blah.

All that legwork you put in to see to it that the executive and the executive alone was given carte blanche blank check powers, WILL be used against you. That was the whole point we dissenters kept making time and time again, that the rule of law is there to PROTECT us, and while you may have been comfortable writing that check to President Bush, would you be to President Hillary Clinton? Or, to put it another way, the moment you define legal conscriptions solely as IMPEDIMENTS rather than PROTECTIONS, and the more you dissolve those conscriptions for convenience, the more you unilateraly disarm. If the law doesn’t have to apply in cases where the person in charge thinks something is really really important, you have not actually created a system that serves that important thing – you have just torn down the walls that keep the next guy from defining some other important thing. So the Patriot Act is now used mostly against online gamblers and offline pot smokers, and executive orders, if Orszag had his druthers, apply not only to terrorist threats, but to poor people not getting enough money.

And, of course, lest you anti-Bushies get too smug in reading those last two paragraphs, the obvious extension of that is, if Orszag had his druthers, you can bet that the NEXT next asshole (President Perry?) will use those same systems to make it easier for him to fiat on the stuff HE considers important. Might be America’s credit rating this time, and teh gay threat to families or brown people in our cities the next.

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