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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Incentives Produce Results

As much as I would love nonviolent political action to succeed in reducing the size of government and increasing human liberty, I fully expect to watch the US spiral into authoritarian stagnation- if I live long enough. All of my grandparents are around 80 and still kicking, so that's a possibility.

Cutting taxes is occasionally possible. Cutting regulation for more than a few hours? I doubt it.

Cutting spending as a share of GDP, which is the most realistic measure of government size, is equally implausible. All the gallantly named TEA Parties and Campaigns for Liberty in the world won't change that by trying to pass bills or elect libertarians, unless

the structure of government is changed. The filibuster, for example, is not legislation, but it slows down the rate of lawmaking, moderates it, and possibly prolongs the life of the Empire.

The direct election of senators, on the other hand, changed the incentive of the senate from representing the interests of state level power (a federalist influence) to representing the interests of mobs of voters (an Imperial influence). And, since the elections are statewide rather than local, Senators are relatively more influenced by larger, more-organized special interest groups than are Representatives. Maybe. Representatives build bridges. Senators hand out industrial tax breaks. That's the idea, but you can probably tell I'm making the facts up as I go along.

Logically, then, the focus for libertarian groups should be changing the incentive structure applied to our public officials.

In a similar vein, overthrowing the public education system should be our #1 legislative priority. It doesn't necessarily ahve to be done via law. If anyone has a hundred billion dollars to spend, it can be done solely on private initiative. The danger is that any mass movement to homeschooling, private schools, virtual classrooms etc. would be met by new laws restricting those things "for the children." Ironically, "socialization" would be one of the main arguments against them. Socialization is one of the avowed goals of public education and no one has a problem with that. Back to the main story...

I'd say that repeal of the direct election of senators (17th amendment) is the single most important structural change we could make. Decentralization would follow logically. I'm not the only one to think of this; there are plenty of fringe groups out there that agree.

I just hate seeing all the wasted effort directed at unattainable policy goals.


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