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Political system

SAFE is concerned with public policy – not politics as such – but it is hard to envision our smaller, more focused, less costly government agenda being implemented without major changes in the political climate.  Indeed, over the past 50 years or so, the country has been moving the other way most of the time.   

The obvious solution might seem to be that Americans should wake up, demand policy changes, and elect political leaders who will honor their wishes.  Isn’t that what the Tea Party movement launched in 2009 is all about? 

But political protest movements tend to burn out quickly, and the major political parties seem to have an affinity for a big government approach that enables them to distribute a lot of “goodies” to their supporters. 

It is tempting to see a solution in the original intent of the Constitution, which was that the federal government would exercise its enumerated powers while leaving other matters, e.g., education and welfare spending, to the state governments and/or private initiative.  In other words, let’s follow the 10th Amendment. 

One doubts the courts will say they have wrongly decided case after case over the past century or so, however, and scrapping the huge federal government programs that have been created does not figure to be easy.  There are also problems with state and local governments, which could not be solved simply by getting the Feds out of the picture.

Structural changes in the US political system may be needed to achieve lasting improvements and/or avert a catastrophic financial crisis.  See News Journal series on the Constitution (Sept. 2012). But what sort of changes? 

On the left, there have been proposals to do away the Electoral College, supervise the drawing of Congressional district lines, and institute new electoral finance “reforms” (current rules in this area seem to have done more harm than good). Quite possibly, additional rights would be proposed in the name of “social justice.”

Many conservatives have suggested a balanced budget amendment, repeal of the income tax, term limits, etc.  For discussion, see Government Run Amok Disease, Nov.-Dec. 2009.

Absent structural changes, Americans must strive to make the existing political system work.  Our periodic observations along these lines will hopefully assist in navigating the rapids that lie ahead.

 In The Choice, written during the fall of 2012, we suggested that “this country is facing a fundamental choice about its future, which may be made by this year’s elections.”  The core issue was a decision as to the proper size and role of the government, which in our view was getting too big for its britches. 

 The president and his party won the 2012 elections, but things did not seem to settle down as a result.  See these ensuing SAFE studies:

  Threats (March 2013 review of numerous economic, political, and national security developments, classed as “somewhat favorable,” bad, and downright ugly).

 Immigration Reform (June 2013 critique of proposed legislation to secure the border and create a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants) 

 Economic survey (August 2013 review of the US economic picture, focusing on growth, jobs, inflation, basic government services, and taxes).

 The blog entries listed below (in reverse chronological order) may shed further light on the functioning of the political system.

Blog entries

10/6/14 – Running an effective government is tough work

9/22/14 – Trivializing the Constitution

8/25/14 – Watch out for a power grab on immigration

8/11/14 – Don’t give up on Congress, the alternative could be far worse

7/21/14 –Mapping a perplexing political landscape

7/7/14 – Revisiting the illegal immigration problem

6/30/14 – Is DC supporting the economy or undermining it?

6/23/14 – The Constitution: presidential term of office

5/19/14 – Opportunity is the best answer to economic inequality

5/12/14 – A clever but deeply flawed rationale for Robin Hood economics

5/5/14 – The scourge of political dishonesty ($5T misstatement, secret science, Benghazi)

4/28/14 – Doubling down on campaign finance “reform”

4/21/14 – Bundy ranch showdown shows erosion of rule of law

3/31/14 – The liberty amendments

3/17/14 – A word to the wise: look before you leap

3/3/14 – Step right up, it’s a government plan

2/10/14 – There must be a better way to hold presidents accountable

2/3/14 – Some thoughts on SOTU address

1/13/14 – Pocketbook issues in an election year (UI & minimum wage)

1/6/14 – Ignorance of government policy is no excuse

12/2/13 – Senate Democrats execute “nuclear option”

10/14/13 – On the cusp of a crisis in DC

10/7/13 – Humans can be replaced, and then what?

9/16/13 – Who or what is to blame for the mess in DC?

9/2/13 – Less is more: a 10-step plan to reboot the economy

8/26/13 – An economic reality check: part 3

8/19/13 – An economic reality check: part 2

8/12/13 – An economic reality check: part 1

7/22/13 – Distractions from the failings of government

7/15/13 – Reflections on a GOP survey

6/24/13 – Fixing a broken immigration system: another approach 

6/17/13 – Fixing a broken immigration system: the proposal

6/10/13 – Fixing a broken immigration system: the goal

5/20/13 – Kabuki theater in DC

5/13/13 – Congress in action: Internet sales tax bill

3/18/13 - A sobering review of recent developments – part two

3/11/13 - A sobering review of recent developments – part one

2/4/13 - Never the twain shall meet (re the liberal/conservative divide)

1/28/13 – Back to the drawing board after inaugural address

1/21/13 – Five whoppers: a sampling of misleading statements

11/5/12 – Decision 2012 is just the beginning

10/22/12 – Lawyers do not necessarily make great leaders

9/24/12 - Reflections on the Constitution at the 225-year mark

9/17/12 – Federal Reserve launches another monetary policy experiment

9/10/12 – Convention slogans express what will be at stake in November

09/3/12 – The presidential race will be intense

8/13/12 – Success is not a lock, but it is worth striving for

8/6/12 – A recent political ad deserves a real response

7/28/12 – Who needs Congress if the Executive Branch can make the laws?

7/2/12 – Professors facilitate national decline

6/25/12 – The imperial presidency returns

4/16/12 – Time to reset the central bank

3/19/12 – A tale of two videos

3/12/12 – Don’t believe everything you hear

3/5/12 – Can this country be saved?

1/9/12 – About those recess appointments

12/19/11 – Beware the planning disease; it takes action to get things done

11/21/11 – GOP economic plan offers some good ideas, but weak execution

11/14/11 – “We can’t wait” campaign is a farce

9/26/11 – “Happytalk” revisited and what to do about it

8/29/11 – Congress’s ratings hit new lows: some thought about the stats

7/4/11- Remember the past to save the future

5/9/11- An administrative blitz: taking cover is not enough

5/2/11 – Meanwhile on the administrative front

9/13/10 – Long live the Constitution

6/28/10 – And never the twain shall meet: the Left/Right divide

3/15/10 – Gridlock won’t look so bad if it stops GovCare

3/1/10 – Should government be held to a higher standard?

Government Run Amok Disease (Nov.-Dec. 2009) – Four-blog series on ideas for making the US government work better

7/6/09 – “Happytalk” blossoms in the nation’s capital

10/27/08 – What would you like, central planning or an eclectic mix?

7/28/08 – Derailing the government gravy train