My plug for Downsize DC and limited government

16 07 2009

I was going to put this in my main post from yesterday, but it was getting a little long.  I also wanted to vet the site/organization linked below thoroughly so I didn’t use my clout in the blogosphere, which is (with nearly forty views per day) considerable, to promote a bunch of crazies.

There’s a nifty little organization called Downsize DC that stands pretty much for what their name suggests—pruning the Federal Government back to its pleasantly proportioned Constitutional limits.

They’ve got a couple of solid pieces of proposed legislation that they’re promoting, found in their Campaigns section.  For example:

•Forcing bills to deal with one coherent issue—no slapping totally unrelated riders on at the last minute to win votes

•Requiring Congress to write and enact legislation instead of allowing unelected Executive Branch bureaucrats to craft mandates and regulations

•Ending ethanol subsidies

•Mandating that Congressmen (fine, Congresspeople) actually read bills before they can vote to pass them—they call it the “Read the Bills Act” (RTBA)

There are a couple of more controversial Campaigns listed—auditing the Federal Reserve, lifting the prohibition on drugs such as marijuana, and working to reestablish a gold standard, for example—that you may not agree with, though I happen to.

There is one common thread that ties many of their bills, including the RTBA (I dare you to find one flaw with this proposal), together.  Besides downsizing DC, of course.  And that uniting theme is slowing down the pace of the Federal Government.  Though Jedi mind tricks like constantly telling you that THERE IS A DIRE EMERGENCY OF GALACTIC PROPORTIONS AND WE NEED TO RUSH THIS WAR AND PEACE-SIZED BILL THROUGH CHOP CHOP OR ELSE THE WORLD WILL BE TORN ASUNDER AND ALSO THERE WILL BE PLAGUES OF LOCUSTS may have clouded your mind, stop and think for a minute: in a sane world, would any public servant acting on behalf of the people who sent him to Washington (and who pay his salary) support a piece of legislation released for review such a short time ago that there is no way that anyone could have possibly read and digested it?

I know that last sentence was really long, but seriously, ponder its profound depth and innumerable nuances for a bit. Because passing bills before they could be read happened with the so-called stimulus economic stabilization package, and it also happened with cap and trade (there wasn’t even a copy of the 300 page amendment on the floor of the House to be reviewed).  I have a feeling that the same thing will happen with whatever health care plan is being drafted in the pits of Mordor at the moment as well.  It’s all rather insulting to my sensibilities.

Our government is designed to work slowly and methodically, something that I wish civics classes would emphasize.  I like to compare it to clockwork.

I can't possibly be the first one to make this analogy.

I can't possibly be the first one to make this analogy.

See, the Constitution is deceptively simple.  If the Framers wanted efficiency, they could have established a monarchy.  But they took a wiser path and created a subtle system of checks and balances to slow down government to a measured, controllable pace. When working as intended, each branch of the government slowly ticks along, opposing the other two branches while still working with them towards a common goal, which is effective governance.  But when the friction holding each branch in check is eliminated in the name of expediency or necessity, the entire machine disintegrates.

Maybe this anecdote will drive the point home:

I have a 1928 “suitcase” Victrola that I occasionally use to play my 78s.  When I first got it, I completely disassembled it to grease the wind-up motor all of its gears and, because I don’t ever really know precisely what I’m doing, disconnected the mainspring and main drive gear from the rest of the system.  Now, the mainspring wasn’t fully wound, so it wasn’t able to turn the turntable.  But it wasn’t fully unwound, either.  With no friction preventing the spring from unwinding, it released all of its energy in a matter of seconds.  The main drive gear revved up to hundreds of RPMs and actually separated and took off into the air (TOTALLY AWESOME, RIGHT?).  I ducked and covered, fearing decapitation or at least minor cuts on my neck.  The gear actually landed on the other side of the room (undamaged, fortunately) after splattering a horizontal band of black grease on several of my walls, some of which still remains there to this day. Yes, this really did happen, and yes, I did manage to reassemble the Victrola.

Since the 1930s, our government has been behaving more and more like the unregulated mainspring/whirring gear of death combination than the carefully crafted piece of clockwork that a bunch of dead, white, bigoted, slaveowning, chauvanistic, Holocaust-denying, and otherwise totally irrelevant men drafted more than two centuries ago.

It’s not too late to reverse the damage.  All the mechanisms exist, and groups like Downsize DC exist to help set them back into motion.

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