The EU

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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

American Government Explained

For John, BLUF:  The American system of government is designed to make it hard to do things, to avoid fads.

Last evening Columnist By Tim Stanley, writing in The Daily Telegraph explained to his fellow Brits the realities of the American Governmental System.  This was noted by Sarah Hoyt, over at The InstaPundit:

YEAH, CARTER FOUND US UNGOVERNABLE, TOO:  Obama or Romney – neither should expect to get much done in the Congress.  Let me translate for our foreign friends — in this here land “ungovernable” is what we call “American”.  And deadlock in our system is not a bug, it’s a feature, enshrined in our constitution.
Sarah is correct, it is a feature, not a bug.  It means we need a lot of consensus so that a slim majority doesn't ram it down the throats of their neighbors, who are a very large chunk of the citizenry.

A prime example is how you pull out of a recession.  Do you spend a lot of money or do you wring the bad investments out of the system?  President Obama's economic advisors suggested a Keynesian like stimulus should be $1.4 Trillion (Yes, with a "T").  In the event, the US Congress and the President agreed on $800 Billion (58% of the proposed stimulus goal).  Why, because it is a compromise between the two views.  Such a compromise may be the worst of all possible worlds, but it represents the lack of consensus amongst the voters.  It is possible one of those two approaches is wrong.  Should 49.9% have to suffer because 51.1% made a bad choice?  Yes, there is the proactive view of "Don't just stand there, do something."  This is sometimes opposed by those who caution, "Don't just do something, stand there", based on the idea that when you don't know what you are doing, doing something might make the situation worse.

Regards  —  Cliff


Craig H said...

Spiegel has a pretty accurate commentary as to the why's and wherefore's.

Mr. Lynne said...

The downside of this is a government that has trouble maneuvering quickly enough to properly react to circumstances. Rome had this problem at the end of the Republic. It's not an accident that Marius and Sulla preceded Caesar - they represented throws of a government that couldn't maneuver properly to react to emergencies and they broke their own laws in order to survive. Shortly thereafter executive power becomes more concentrated in an emperor.