Gridlock, Graft and Governance

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Murali

Murali did his undergraduate degree in molecular biology with a minor in biophysics from the National University of Singapore (NUS). He then changed direction and did his Masters in Philosophy also at NUS. Now, he is currently pursuing a PhD in Philosophy at the University of Warwick.

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127 Responses

  1. Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

    Gridlock is at best a defensive posture, not something to be wished for in itself. How’s it working out? Eh, not that great, but it’s at least plausible to think that one-party government would have been worse.Report

    • Gridlock is an inoculation against progressivism, whose schemes are very hard to undo. The ratcheting effect cannot be underestimated: every charity from the state [read the fellow-citizen taxpayer] becomes an entitlement, and then a “right.”

      Since America is the world’s oldest republic, I submit our “gridlock” is partially responsible for that stability, something not deeply wrong, but right. The rest of the world’s gov’ts save the UK’s are mere pups.

      (Reuters) – President Barack Obama this week will announce a series of actions to help the economy that will not require congressional approval, including an initiative to make it easier for homeowners to refinance their mortgages, according to a White House official…

      Uh oh.

      http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/10/24/us-obama-economy-idUSTRE79N0J920111024Report

      • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

        Hey, go call Eric Cantor up and tell him to make it harder for people to refinance their mortgages. I’m sure that’ll be popular.Report

        • Jesse, I reckon you’re fine with autocratic presidencies as long as you agree with them.

          I don’t mind when presidents are obliged to act quickly in national emergencies, but this issue strikes me as a congressional one, specifically the House, which holds the power of the purse.

          TARP was bi-partisan, with half the GOP and almost all the Dems. That’s what I’d call consensus, constitutionalism, and best governance.Report

          • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

            Except no one is claiming what Obama is doing is in any way illegal. The President has a lot of leeway in telling various Cabinet departments to do with their money. HARP was passed already, so Obama telling Treasury to do x instead of y with money already budgeted is not an usurpation of the Constitution.

            I may not like what President Romney may tell the HHS or HUD to do, but it’ll most likely be perfectly legal.Report

            • Didn’t say it was illegal, Jesse. But I missed the part where it’s the federal government’s job—the president’s, at that, with no consultation with Congress—to intervene on a state-level issue, on behalf of people who agreed to 6-7% home loans and are still making the payments.

              I suppose it’s “unfair” that these people can’t get re-financing because their houses have depreciated in market value, altho why that’s the fed gov’t lookout—the taxpayer’s—I dunno. They agreed to the loans, and would have pocketed any profit if the homes had appreciated.

              Looks more like a politician buying votes with my money to me. You seem to agree with the program in your good-hearted and generous way, and seem disposed to vote for the politician in question.

              But that’s not really a principled argument in favor of what he’s doing and how he’s doing it. “It’s not illegal” is rather weak tea, and the president’s arrogation of this issue sans Congress argues for more gridlock, not less.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                It’s the federal government’s job because it’s part of the original HARP Act that passed with no Constitutional challenge. You may or may not agree with whether the President should do it, but it’s in the books.

                It’s unfair because many of these people were sold a bill of goods as far as the original value of their house and I’d argue that if somebody can refinance their mortgage and pay the actual value of the home instead of the inflated value, they can spend more money on other goods and services.

                As for ‘buying’ votes, I’d make the comment that promising massive tax cuts is just as much buying a vote as promising a new social program.

                In short, he can do it, I agree with it, and I have no doubt a Republican President would do something along the same lines in another policy area if they thought it could win them some votes.

                I realize you’re in your ivory tower of putting a pox on both houses, but I actually have a shot of getting some of my ideals passed – so yeah, if Obama plays hardball, I say it’s time somebody on the center-left did so.Report

              • Since BHO’s own party won’t follow him, claiming to speak for the “center-left” seems hollow. [Although I suppose you might live in the world that doesn’t consider most Democrats as “center-left.”]

                Further, your argument

                that if somebody can refinance their mortgage and pay the actual value of the home instead of the inflated value, they can spend more money on other goods and services.

                doesn’t appeal to me, or you if you’re one of the 53% who pay fed income taxes. Why them and not us? 6-7% mortgages aren’t abusive [they’ve been the norm] and being “upside-down” only matters if you’re selling or re-financing, not if you bought a home to actually live in it.

                Dunno about you, but I’m just scraping by meself, and could “spend more money on other goods and services” as well as the next fellow.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                By “his own party” you mean four or five Democratic Senator’s in conservative states and one asshole who’s political policy is whatever pisses off liberals (Lieberman) than you’d be correct – the Democrat’s consistently voting against Democratic policies are usually center-right Democrat’s.

                Ignoring the ad hominem against people too poor to pay federal income taxes but yet still pay every other type of tax, the whole point is so people can refinance to a lower point and pay what their house is actually worth.

                I have no problems with this. No, you or I aren’t eligible for this, but not every federal program helps everyone. I don’t have kids, but I don’t think the EITC or child tax credit should be eliminated because it’s unfair somebody with some kids gets a tax break.Report

              • BHO has gone autocrat. He lost Congress and now his own party runs away from him.

                http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0911/63456.html

                Gridlock is great. It’s going to be hard enough unratcheting his “progress” from 2009-2011. At least the American people stopped him before he made things any “better.”Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                I’m shocked a retiring conservative former Reagan official, a conservative Democrat from a state going red quickly, and a Senator from Delaware all aren’t fans of things that aren’t center-right and don’t supplicate the Beltway Consensus. 🙂

                Of course moderate Dems are bitching. They always bitch. As a Republican, I know you aren’t used to Republican’s disagreeing unless it’s to disagree whether something goes far right enough.Report

              • Leave me out of it, Jesse: BHO has gone autocrat. I’m a consensus guy, see above where I’m just fine with TARP, passed by half the Reps and most all of the Dems.

                BHO pissed away his first trillion-dollar blank stimulus check, and the American people took the House away from him in 2010 to stop him from pissing away more.

                So if he has no party left to lead, that’s good.

                Since you apparently restrict your reading to the center-left “mainstream,” your comments here and elsewhere seem oblivious to the fact that many GOPers [Hannity comes to mind] were all over Dubya for spending like a drunken Kennedy.

                Try to keep in mind I’m not fronting and not trading fronts with you. The GOP deserved the boot out of congressional control in 2006, the Dems in 2010. If there’s one thing I trust in our whole system, it’s certainly not the politicians, it’s the voters. [And the ingenious Mr. Madison.]Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                So, you were against the 2003 tax cuts then? After all, they only passed 51-49.

                As for the rest, not so much. I read the Corner daily. I read FrumForum. I even occasionally hit random right wing blogs, even though I usually avoid the true crazies like Malkin.

                Hell, I read this site. Ya’ know, the one at least co-run by a libertarian.Report

              • Mr. Ewiak, pls say something outside the box if you want to engage me. Your partisan boilerplate couldn’t pass a Turing Test and you shouldn’t be able to be replaced by a machine. Neither is it enlightening to talk with one.

                Yes, I’m fine with a 51-49 vote on a tax hike or tax cut either way: you can’t go scorched-earth on everything that comes down the pike. Major changes, not so much—a war, a major social program.

                I’m still half-and-half on BHO blowing a billion on Khadafy. He should have consulted Congress and I’m not even sure it’ll turn out well, but on the other hand, their lack of concerted opposition was a tacit consent and close enough to consensus for me.

                http://www.politico.com/blogs/joshgerstein/1011/Judge_zings_lawmakers_dismisses_War_Powers_lawsuit_over_Libya.htmlReport

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                TVD,
                removing Obamacare is going to be impossible, I think. And the Republicans have staked their hat on doing it.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                It’s a stupid program that doesn’t solve any fundamental issues. Go with Calculated Risk on this one — minor benefit. But listen to what lawyerliz says:
                “My advise to almost all of my clients would be to walk!! (or, stop paying and squat). Why reaffirm a debt which is twice or 4 or 5 times what the house is valued at? This is crazy.

                Even if you reduced the interest rate from 7% to 1%, you wouldn’t get to even for at least 10 years.

                Nearly all my clients are close to half off. Only cramdowns make sense. “Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                TVD,
                WHAT THE FUCK?
                We have more people than we can afford, where the jobs ain’t. Because they can’t more to other places, because they’re underwater on their mortgages.

                Jesus bloody hell. Mind your reading, you’re getting the liberals to cite Mises again.

                We ain’t getting out of this depression/recession until we can have a freely moving population again.

                “being upsidedown” doesn’t matter? Jesus fucking christ. Yes it bloody well does! Most people’s wealth resides in their home. If they don’t have that to take equity out of, they go bankrupt. a lot (mostly due to health care costs, our current “break the bank” thing).Report

              • Avatar A Teacher in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                ~~It’s unfair because many of these people were sold a bill of goods as far as the original value of their house and I’d argue that if somebody can refinance their mortgage and pay the actual value of the home instead of the inflated value, they can spend more money on other goods and services. ~~

                They made an INVESTMENT.

                The investment proved to be a bad one. That happens. They signed promisery notes and it’s up to the them and their lenders to work out new arrangements. That’s how loans work. That’s how contracts work.

                If the presidential fiat can just sign off on massive re-writing of contracts I’d love for him to buy some votes and re-write my teaching contract to include a class size limit of 30 kids. I don’t need more income (it’d be nice though) but why not just, wave the magic pen of the president and order those contracts redone?

                Oh…. Hmm… maybe he just hates teachers or something.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to A Teacher says:

                They made an investment???
                tell that to the people flatly cheated out of “fixed rate loans” that they demanded.
                Tell that to the NUMEROUS winners of lawsuits alleging racial discrimination on terms.

                A Teacher, yeah — lawyerliz says the best solution is bankruptcy, and I agree. But that puts all the burden on banks. Which means more bank failures on Friday.Report

              • Avatar A Teacher in reply to Kimmi says:

                Here’s the rub: It’s a precident that the president can force contracts open at will. Not because of discrimination, not because of specific misrepresentation.

                People bought houses assuming the market would go up. It went down. That’s what ~happens~ to commodities.

                It’s unfortunate but the vast majority of people who are underwater aren’t there because of cheating. ~WE~ are there because the market turned down.

                I’m underwater but that is part of the price of making an investment.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Kimmi says:

                A teacher,
                yeah, but these investments have destroyed our economy. you’re underwater, but so too are the MBS people.

                I don’t mind you getting somewhat penalized for a poor investment.

                But saying that you have to pay double for a house is 1) ridiculous 2) a poor investment of our resources.

                That said, we have bloody bankruptcy for a reason.

                This is a naked sop to the banks, and nothing more.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Kimmi says:

                With enough inflation, we can get house prices back to where they were. Everyone* will be better off!Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Kimmi says:

                Jaybird,
                I’d rather penalize/drive out of business the banks that did this shit. Otherwise, you create a system where people got away with murder, and will try it again. With higher stakes no doubt.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Kimmi says:

                Maybe we could have merely not bailed them out instead of bailing them out then penalizing them out of business.Report

              • Avatar DarrenG in reply to Kimmi says:

                Jaybird, the problem with that is that there’s not one contiguous “them.”

                The banks and insurers that got most of the bailout funds weren’t those who originated the fraudulent loans. They were the ones who subsequently bought them and leveraged them so much that it threatened the global economy when they started going bad.

                Plenty of bad actors to go around, and that’s before we get to the ratings agencies.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Kimmi says:

                Jaybird.
                Well, pardon me, but I live in a city. You might have gotten out of that alive, but I wouldn’t have.
                I’m fairly certain most people don’t know what it’s like to be Argentina. And most don’t wanna know.
                The bailouts were necessary — to the point where Henry Paulson was literally on his knees in front of Pelosi begging her to help. (her response, “Why Henry! I didn’t know you were Catholic!”)Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Kimmi says:

                tell that to the people flatly cheated out of “fixed rate loans” that they demanded.

                They feel cheated, do they? But they did sign the contract. Every presidential renegotiation puts money in their pocket… but takes it out of retirees’ pockets, in the form of falling stock prices. A contract’s a contract, and if they felt it was a cheat, they shouldn’t have signed. They should have held out for the fixed rates by renting a little longer. Fixed rates are abundant now.

                Tell that to the NUMEROUS winners of lawsuits alleging racial discrimination on terms.

                Presumably they’ve already gotten a remedy, and the president doesn’t need to usurp the powers of the judiciary anyway. This is rather changing the subject, though, isn’t it?Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Kimmi says:

                Jason,
                It’s abundantly clear that you are rather ignorant of the type of fraud that I am talking about. Look up some stuff on Consumerist or CalculatedRisk.

                But I’ll explain the case in more detail:
                The “scam” is putting fixed rate paperwork on top of “floating rate” paperwork, so that someone reading the first page thinks that they’re signing for a fixed rate, and in reality, they’re signing for a floating rate.

                This is a deliberate attempt to commit fraud via trickery. The fact that someone signs the contract does not mean that the realtors were acting in good faith.

                I can cite plenty of other frauds committed (LIAR and NINJA loans among them)Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Kimmi says:

                Don’t ya’ know, Kimmi, if you sign a contract, it’s ironclad. Unless you’re a corporation or government whose signed a contract with a union. You can break that all you want and conservatives and libertarians will cheer you.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Kimmi says:

                Jesse,
                Did you see the Dailykos piece about Big Auto? Seems like they’re going the way of Big Steel — letting everything decay as they decrease current pay and promise more money in “the future”Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Kimmi says:

                Don’t ya’ know, Kimmi, if you sign a contract, it’s ironclad. Unless you’re a corporation or government whose signed a contract with a union. You can break that all you want and conservatives and libertarians will cheer you.

                That’s funny, I don’t recall much cheering.

                What I remember was Megan McArdle arguing that automakers should NOT be let out of their (probably foolish) contracts with the unions, and if that means bankruptcy, well, it would hurt, but they still shouldn’t get a bailout.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Kimmi says:

                quote me GMAC’s losses ytoy from 2008-2009. compare to GM’s overall profits/loss.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Kimmi says:

                @Jesse,

                Unless you’re a corporation or government whose signed a contract with a union. You can break that all you want and conservatives and libertarians will cheer you.

                And once again we see how certain liberal commenters on this blog will perpetuate lies about libertarians. The dishonesty really does get a bit hard to swallow after a while.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Kimmi says:

                The “scam” is putting fixed rate paperwork on top of “floating rate” paperwork, so that someone reading the first page thinks that they’re signing for a fixed rate, and in reality, they’re signing for a floating rate…This is a deliberate attempt to commit fraud via trickery.

                I haven’t heard that before, so I don’t have tremendous faith in the truth value of it. I know some real estate and mortgage folks, and I’d be surprised if many of them were committing outright fraud.

                Nevertheless, I don’t doubt that a small number would commit such fraudulent practices, since the ranks of those professions, like all others, are drawn from the pool of humanity.

                And if such fraud has occurred, there’s a remedy. Always has been. It’s a remedy strongly supported by libertarians, as a matter of fact.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Kimmi says:

                @Jaybird,

                Maybe we could have merely not bailed them out instead of bailing them out then penalizing them out of business.

                That would have required an unprecedented amount of efficiency from the U.S. government.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Kimmi says:

                @James and Jesse,
                I’ll be glad to buy you a beer at Washington National Airport, someday. 😉Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Kimmi says:

                James,
                amount of outright fraud versus generalized sluttery is based on what kind of loans they work with. (inverse relationship).
                Oh jollyjeewhillickers, someone’s willing to admit that people like to cheat!
                I’m sorry, but you can come up with something better than that. Maybe “bubbles attract fraudsters”? Nice, now I’m doing your argumentation for you.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                … buying whose votes? This does NOT help most people. It buys the BANK’s votes, as they get fewer bankruptcies.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Kimmi says:

                rob dawg:
                “Let’s be clear. Only one party involved benefits. Everyone else is impaired. The beneficiary is the bank servicing conduit. The MBS holders are reduced in value. The borrowers are expected to accelerate principle return. The taxpayer is on the hook.

                It helps the banks. It will happen.”Report

      • Avatar Mike in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

        Yeah, god forbid that “uppity nigger from Kenya” actually work on solving problems while you people are busy causing gridlock and making things worse in your bid for power.Report

        • Avatar Murali in reply to Mike says:

          Dude, just because people opposd to your president on ideological grounds, it does not follow that they are racist. Get ovr yourself man.Report

          • Avatar Mike in reply to Murali says:

            Obviously you’ve never been exposed to, or else not paid attention to, the racist core republican groups that migrated quite quickly back into the open the moment the Tea Party “movement” gave them cover to do so.

            Pat Buchanan’s making the rounds on their radio shows currently, with Pamela Geller and her nutjob cronies following close behind.Report

            • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Mike says:

              So racist, in fact, that they’re now overwhelmingly supporting Herman Cain for president.

              If you’d said they were prejudiced against Islam, you certainly would have had a stronger case. Geller is especially bad in that department, of course.Report

            • Avatar Murali in reply to Mike says:

              Logic Fail!

              Let me put this in as simple terms as possible.

              Some/Many Racists are republicans =/= many republicans are racists.

              Some/Many republicans are racist =/= all republicans are racist

              I oppose Obama’s policies =/= I am a republican

              I oppose Obama’s policies =/= I am a racistReport

              • Avatar Mike in reply to Murali says:

                Some/Many Racists are Republicans
                PLUS
                Many Republican leaders are clearly racists
                PLUS
                Republican politicians going on clearly racist shows or working with clearly racist writers/politicians such as Robert Stacy McCain, James Edwards of ‘Political Cesspool’, Pamela Geller, ‘Liberty News Radio Network’, Stormfront Radio, ‘Council of Conservative Citizens’ (white separatists who jerk off to ‘reenact apartheid’ fantasies), ‘Institute of Historical Review’ (holocaust denial front group), and of course all the “Birther” bullshit entirely based on racism.

                Conclusion:
                Yes. They’re a bunch of racists. The loudmouths are active about it, the rest of them just silently nod assent and agreement.Report

              • Avatar Murali in reply to Mike says:

                we are not talking about random assorted politicians. We are talking about people on this blog.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Mike says:

                Mike,
                it’s funny. in WV — that Democratic state, there are a LOT of racists too.Report

        • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Mike says:

          The only one using the word “nigger” in this conversation is you.

          I know, I know, you’re reading our minds.

          “We people” are all alike, anyway.Report

          • Avatar J. Jones in reply to Will Truman says:

            Actually, from observation – yes. You are.

            Tea Party rallies, events, anywhere that you think there isn’t a camera on you (or at least a camera you control and can count on to snip out the bad stuff), out it comes.

            I’m black. My fiancee is latina. I’ve been called “nigger” and things a hundred times worse, over and over again, by people who insist I shouldn’t even be there because of my skin color. My fiancee has had “go back to mexico” and “we don’t need no steenking taco trucks here” shouted at her back multiple times.

            The irony? Fiscally, I’m not completely on board with the Democrats. I run my own business. My fiancee is also my secretary. We’re working on plans right now to put her daughter through college as well as officially adopting her as my daughter once we get married in a few months, since her father’s in prison and likely to be there another 20 years at least.

            But there’s no way to get past it. You just can’t. The so-called “conservatives”, from Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck all the way down to the bottom level, are RACISTS. And the moment they don’t think there is a camera recording what they say, they are completely unafraid to show it.

            I agree with Mike when he mentions the term “House Boy” in regard to Herman Cain. JC Watts is in the same boat. Colin Powell was a longtime pet of the so-called “conservative movement”, but the moment he voted for and endorsed Obama, the racists of the Republican Party turned on him and started screaming “Colin Powell’s a Racist” because he didn’t follow Massa’s Orders.

            There is no way around it. If you are a part of that movement, you are a racist, either because you are openly saying racist things, or because you are turning a blind eye to the racist things said and done by your compatriots.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to J. Jones says:

              Are Libertarians racists too or do they have to be Democrats in order to not be racists anymore?Report

            • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to J. Jones says:

              It’s funny how the progressive liberal viewpoint is that you can spot racists by skin color and association.Report

            • Avatar Kimmi in reply to J. Jones says:

              JJones,
              you been over to field negro’s site? He’ll make an argument that not all republican blacks are house negros. Some have sold out, and others haven’t. (Sharpton’s a sellout, too, don’t get me wrong.) I trust his estimation better than yours.

              (and yeah, people get this idea that all blacks are 100% liberal. sheer bubbemitzis. I loved Field’s post on “what middle class blacks talk about at parties” it was insightful and eye-opening)Report

            • Avatar Will Truman in reply to J. Jones says:

              What makes you think I have any use for Rush and Beck?

              Oh, right, because I lean to the right.

              So I’m one of those people.

              Who are all alike.Report

              • Avatar J. Jones in reply to Will Truman says:

                You claim to have “no use” for Rush and Beck, but if you are on their side as a political ally who will vote along the lines they do, then you are one of the silent group simply nodding assent.

                Much like the ones who claim never to have seen anything racist at the Tea Party rallies.

                You can be deliberately ignorant of what’s going on around you. You can try to claim you are on their side or voting the same way for unrelated “independent reasons.”

                You’re still voting alongside racists as an ally, supporting the goals of racists. In other words, racist goals.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to J. Jones says:

                If a black racist voted for Obama, would that mean all Democrats “support racist goals” too?Report

          • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Will Truman says:

            Seriously, can we back off from the N word here?

            “I know you’re secretly thinking it” is dirty argumentation. It’s not falsifiable. It’s not even verifiable. It’s mere assertion, and ad hominem at that.

            Note that J. Jones below has a fair point, in that he has actually been called by that epithet. A very different thing from “I know you’re secretly thinking it.”Report

            • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

              ya. if we wanted some fun VERIFICATION, 4chan’s /b/ can happily help you out. ‘Course, I’d want some nice webcams on your face as you scanned it. Wonder what I’d see…
              I figure the disgust would take a good second or two to register. It’s before that which I’m interested in.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Kimmi says:

                Oh yeah? Well, I think you’re a big poopyhead.

                And there’s nothing you could say or do to change my mind!

                Seriously, the level of argumentation around here is just absurdly low these days. “I would take pleasure in imagining a scenario in which you are revealed to be a racist” isn’t an argument. It’s a confession.Report

  2. Avatar Roger says:

    Good Q Murali,

    I have a fundamental distrust of top down, centralized, monopolistic, coercive solutions. I view them as a last resort. The problem is that most people view this path as a first resort — or worse — the only solution to a problem. Gridlock is good only to the extent that it slows down the mistake of solving problems stupidly and inefficiently.

    I agree regulatory bodies and their bureaucracies are on autopilot. All the more reason for more gridlock to interfere with creating more of these monsters. I’d love to provide suggestions on how to slay the beasts. but that is off topic.

    My take on it is that RENT SEEKING “creates an industry for special interests and lobbyists to buy legislators and therefore promotes corruption.” Gridlock probably just raises the price. Your point rings true though. Again, special interest groups are trying to solve problems by wrestling over rules and privileges rather than actually creating value. This should be addressed.

    And yes, “without gridlock, the deed would be done and the money spent on something.” I believe we are better off with 95 out of a hundred deeds never done in a top down, centralized, non-competitive coercive way. There is a cost to slowing the process down, and you highlight it. It is still imperative though.

    Do you really want the opposing political party (to whatever you believe) to have unchecked power? I just distrust both parties.Report

    • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Roger says:

      I believe we are better off with 95 out of a hundred deeds never done in a top down, centralized, non-competitive coercive way.

      Bingo.Report

    • Avatar Pyre in reply to Roger says:

      >>>without gridlock, the deed would be done and the money spent on something.” I believe we are better off with 95 out of a hundred deeds never done in a top down, centralized, non-competitive coercive way.

      Pretty much that. This argument against gridlock is similar to people who say that there should be fewer appeals for death row inmates. Yes, in both cases, the deed would be done. The money would be spent.

      But, is that really a good option? Should the goal really be “Let’s just do something”?

      Even the three reasons that you gave to be skeptical of Gridlock aren’t actually symptomatic of Gridlock. Lobbyists and special interests don’t go away when one party has all three branches. In fact, most special interests play both sides of the political aisle.

      Gridlock is more often the response of someone who realizes that our political system has become hopelessly overrun by politicians whose defining characteristic is greed and lust for power rather than actually representing their constituents but isn’t yet willing to propose a thermonuclear response (either metaphorically or literally) to our current form of government.Report

      • Avatar Murali in reply to Pyre says:

        Nice comments Roger, TVD and Pyre!

        I know that there are some things (maybe many things) I just wish the government didnt do or did differently.

        The question is not between doing them and not doing them at all, but its between doing them and doing them badly.

        Gridlock does not mean that no legislation gets passed. It just means that ny legislation that does is going to cost money and do nothing else but.

        Let’s say we cared about preventing the growth of entitledment programs. As a libertarian, that’s something I’m on board with. The reason I care about preventing said growth is because such growth would be the road to fiscal insanity. Gridlock doesnt mean that no bill is passed. Rather, Gridloock means that the bill that is passed is monstrously more expensive and far less effective. I’m thinking that without gridlock, you would have gotten social security reformed decades ago. It might have become a standard wekfare model, or maybe some sort individual savings account model, but either one would be better than what you currently have.

        i.e. even if having effective entitlement programs is not our first choice of policy measure, it sould still be preferrable to having ineffective and expensive pseudo-entitlement programs.Report

        • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Murali says:

          Social Security is perfectly solvent for the next thirty-odd years and will be solvent for the foreseeable future if LeBron James and Donald Trump pay the same percentage of FICA taxes as the American’s on this board do.

          So, it’s not an ineffecient program. Now, giving it over to Wall Street by making it an savings account model sure as hell would.Report

          • Avatar Murali in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

            Your excuse of a tax code which has more loop-holes and exceptions than rules is also a by-product of this suck-ass gridlock you have going on there.

            As with regards to social security, I dont think the math adds up the way you think it adds up. But I am willing to be proved wrong on this.Report

        • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Murali says:

          I’m thinking that without gridlock, you would have gotten social security reformed decades ago. It might have become a standard wekfare model, or maybe some sort individual savings account model, but either one would be better than what you currently have.

          Mr. Murali, my reservation is that the modern Eurowelfare state may be unsustainable. These systems are a half-dozen decades old at best, and it’s not clear such systems work.

          So we could be cemented into a system thaqt is untenable, and the welfare state is very hard to unratchet.

          And we have had windows where we could have stabilized Social security under Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, Clinton, Dubya and Obama where one party controlled the presidency and Congress. Nothing was done then either, perhaps because there is little that can be done, or in the case of Johnson and Obama, the agenda was to expand the welfare state, not solidify it.

          Since the New Deal is now part of our system—there will be no unratcheting—the irony is that the “conservative” GOP, like David Cameron’s Conservatives, is still tasked with saving the “social democrat” state as it exists today.Report

          • Avatar karl in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

            Why do I get the feeling that even if “these systems” were a half-dozen centuries old you’d still ‘worry’ that they unsustainable?Report

            • Avatar karl in reply to karl says:

              … they were unsustainable.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to karl says:

                Human nature, brother Karl, the one invariable. America hit a weird combination of [relatively] blank slates geographically, historically and thereby politically. If you drew me out, you’d find it interesting. If it’s about partisan grenade-tossing, dodging them keeps my dance card quite full hereabouts.

                😉Report

              • Avatar karl in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                We are all captives to temperament and rationalize the best we can to support our preferences. The older I get, the more it looks like biology tends to be destiny on the politico-socio-philosophico front. No evidence here, just supposition.

                One thing I have noticed (yes, this is all off-topic) is that while I’ve seen some on the far right move to the center-left, I’ve never seen a far lefty move to the center right — when they turn they usually go all the way.

                Don’t know what to make of all that; guess that’s why I read the smart folks at LoOG.Report

          • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

            Social Security is Flippin Fine. It’s medicaid that’s got problems. If you wanted to fix the minor “boomer-shaped” hole in social security, just remove the income tax break for second mortgages. THAT’s IT. You’d fix it in ten seconds, and without needing to “raise taxes for shmucks”Report

        • Avatar Roger in reply to Murali says:

          Murali, TVD and Pyre,

          Gridlock does indeed mean some things don’t get passed, and a lot of things never get introduced to Congress at all. I think a 100% congress and President (of either Red or Blue variety) would do massive harm. Think of all the countries they could “liberate” and all the social programs they could create.

          That said, I do agree that gridlock has costs of its own as you lay out, and that consensus often leads to suboptimal committee type decisions that nobody likes and that nobody learns from (it was the stuff we were forced to accept that caused all our ruin!)

          But to be clear, I would rather have two ineffective pseudo programs than 10 straight line red or blue programs — which may be effective and which may be disastrous.Report

          • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Roger says:

            Yes, Roger, I agree that Mr. Murali has a good point about the neither fish-nor-fowl legislation that does squeak through the gridlock.

            But if half a loaf is better than none, and if as you say, none is preferable 95% of the time, well…

            I hate math but I still love me some gridlock.Report

        • Avatar Pyre in reply to Murali says:

          I would argue that the costs are actually less. Yes, you get more legislative “process” with the bills but a one-party government will pass more bills with more expenses and more earmarks and the bills will still be monstrously expensive and inefficient.

          As for Social Security, if one party governments were going to reform programs such as Social Security, then it would be done by now. We’ve had plenty of opportunities to do so on both sides of the aisle and we haven’t. People say that past history does not predict future behavior but, really, it does.

          As for the tax code (being someone who works in tax), gridlock has nothing to do with it. I could write…..a lot…..on how new taxes and loopholes get created but, suffice it to say, they are caused by a tug-of-war between the large corporations and the various government agendas.Report

          • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Pyre says:

            As for the tax code (being someone who works in tax), gridlock has nothing to do with it.

            Agreed. I don’t follow Murali’s claim on that one, as he didn’t develop the logic to explain/support it. But I don’t see how having either Republican or Democratic dominance would change the perversity of our tax code. Every once in a while we attempt major tax reform, and in each case it gets nibbled away at until the exemptions are put back in. That’s not because of gridlock per se, but because each congressmember benefits from securing specific preferential treatments for his/her supporters.Report

            • Avatar Murali in reply to James Hanley says:

              But I don’t see how having either Republican or Democratic dominance would change the perversity of our tax code

              Let’s say that we made Barack Obama the dictator of america. As dictator, he could dictate policy by fiat and would not have to compromise a single bit. Would this create a neoliberal paradise? no. Would it create a far simpler tax code? I’m betting yes.

              Do the same for Mitt Romney. What would happen if Mitt Romney could singlehandedly dictate policy without significanat opposition? What would be better? What would be worse?Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Murali says:

                What has Obama done so far that makes you willing to bet he’d simplify the tax code if given dictatorial power?

                And what makes you confident (I assume) that if he did, it would actually be a better tax code? (E.g., tax everyone under $100,000 income nothing, tax everyone above at 90% would be simpler, but not better, to take an extreme example.)Report

              • Avatar Murali in reply to James Hanley says:

                What has Obama done so far that makes you willing to bet he’d simplify the tax code if given dictatorial power?

                Nothing really, except to not give any evidence to the fact of whether he is outright insane. He might be since he is the president of such a dysfunctional nation, but that might just be a limited kind of irrationality.

                And what makes you confident (I assume) that if he did, it would actually be a better tax code? (E.g., tax everyone under $100,000 income nothing, tax everyone above at 90% would be simpler, but not better, to take an extreme example.)

                I assume that he is not insane and actually wants to

                1) benefit americans
                and
                2) extract rents out of the system.

                imposing a 90% tax on those earning above $100000 does not seem to be a reasonable way to go about doing either. (i.e. it wouldnt do to kill the golden goose that pays taxes from which a part of your salary is drawn)Report

  3. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    I myself like different parties holding different powers at one time, as a method for balancing. But there is a difference between balance and gridlock.

    I think sometimes those that argue for gridlock forget that there is actual governing that needs to be accomplished. It’s not all about controversial bill passage.Report

  4. Avatar MFarmer says:

    It’s somewhat of a flawed premise — I think most libertarians want strong opposition to an out of control interventionist government, but they would love to see a legislative flurry which limits government and rolls back all the economy killing legislation passed before.Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to MFarmer says:

      Right. But in the not-even-second-best world, that’s not a realistic option. Gridlock is.Report

    • Avatar Roger in reply to MFarmer says:

      MF,

      I agree that a flurry of regulatory rollback would probably be bad too. Case in point was energy “deregulation” in California.

      The point is we are trying to solve problems backward — top down rather than bottoms up, coercively rather than voluntarily, in a win/lose fashion rather than win/win, via one size fits all rather than via experimentation, competition and variety. I call it the Big Kahuna Fallacy and my experience is that 9 out of 10 Americans fall for it hook line and sinker.Report

      • Avatar MFarmer in reply to Roger says:

        “I agree that a flurry of regulatory rollback would probably be bad too. Case in point was energy “deregulation” in California.”

        Who are you agreeing with? I think a flurry of regulatory rollback would be good in Calif, in energy and every other area. The myth of deregulation in Calif’s energy section is just that, a myth.Report

  5. Avatar Brandon Berg says:

    (How’s that working out by the way?)

    Better than the alternative, I suspect. Most of the big expansions of the federal government came while Democrats controlled both houses of Congress, didn’t they? And the period 1994-2000 was a period of unprecedented restraint in spending growth.

    Gridlock creates an industry for special interests and lobbyists to buy legislators and therefore promotes corruption

    How so? Seems to me that the easer it is to get legislation passed, the more legislators have available for sale.Report

  6. Avatar greginak says:

    Gridlock is nifty if you are set and comfortable. If you can’t get health insurance- due to a preexisting condition then gridlock was your enemy. Don’t like the WOD: well pick one, trying to end the WOD or gridlock. Don’t like the screwed up tax code: pick one tax reform or gridlock.

    Status quo bias is great if you have it made.Report

  7. Murali:

    It seems that #2 and #3 of your post are actually examples of the disadvantages of non-gridlock. If legislators can’t pass anything, then it seems more or less fruitless for an industry to lobby them. If politicians use/abuse earmarks* to get legislation passed, then the fact that legislation is being passed suggests to me that this is not a gridlock situation.

    *I might misunderstand what is meant by “earmark” generally: it seems to me to be just a process of designating where and how appropriated money is to be spent. I stand to be corrected of course, but if my understanding is correct, earmarks are just taking the discretion out of someone else’s (e.g., the executive’s) hands when it comes to spending. I don’t see why that, per se, is a bad thing, although I can certainly see how in practice it might not work.Report

  8. Avatar Ethan Gach says:

    The general problem with gridlock is that on average it produces legislation but doesn’t repeal it.

    The point of democracy, and especially deliberative representative democracy, is that you try certain laws out, try certain policies, and if they don’t achieve the desired results, scrap them.

    The problem is we try stuff out and if/when it fails, it stays on the books because gridlock makes it easier to pass things than repeal them.

    This imbalance is what’s key, because it’s in large part why government appears so incompetant and ineffective, despite the ongoing increase in the number of laws and bureaucracies.Report

  9. Gridlock helps prevent idiotic do-gooders from actualizing their pet-opinions on healing the world when times are good – a la the 90s. It doesn’t work now when things are really screwed up and radical change is needed. But, then, of course, you open up the question of whose change is best, which is why we’re all here now talking about this, but we probably weren’t so interested in it in the nineties (I liked baseball and Nintendo).Report

  10. Avatar E.D. Kain says:

    Great post, Murali. Gridlock kills accountability. That’s where I’ve come down on the matter. Nobody is responsible for anything in a system of enormous gridlock and legislative inertia.Report

  11. Hmm, I didn’t even realize I was the subject, more or less, of another post. Quick responses, before I shuffle off to the dreadful task of grading freshman term papers…

    @Murali,
    How’s that working out by the way?
    Compared to what?

    Most of the interference in the market comes from regulatory bodies which are part of the executive and not subject to gridlock
    That’s an oversimplification. The executive branch agencies are subject to legislative oversight, and can only do what’s in the scope of authority granted them by the legislative branch. While gridlock can prevent the legislative branch from effectively constraining the executive branch agencies, it also prevents the legislature from expanding their scope of authority.

    Gridlock creates an industry for special interests and lobbyists to buy legislators and therefore promotes corruption
    What’s to buy if legislation is unlikely to get passed? Only non-passage itself–i.e., it offers an opportunity for special interests to pay to keep their status quo rents; to reinforce gridlock itself. When real legislation is actually going to get passed, there’s an opportunity to buy new benefits. Gridlock is no worse in this case, although it’s not obviously better, either.

    Politicians in american style deomcracies throw in ear-marks or gut the effectiveness of laws to get individual law-makers to vote for particularly contested bills. This results in an increase in spending on ineffective policies.
    I think that’s the wrong way to understand ear-marks. Most earmarks are just local spending projects. Wasteful, and I’d like to see them go, but in the big picture they don’t add up to a major amount of our spending. And in an imperfect world, spending on ineffective policies may be a libertarian’s best alternative–preferable to spending on actual effective policies, when we don’t want that effect. Granted, sometimes spending on ineffective policies is dreadful, like the war on drugs, but in a non-gridlocked system that wouldn’t change. Anyway, contra what some of my critics repeatedly suggest, I’m not suggesting my favored approach results in an ideal system.

    @E.D. Kain,
    Gridlock kills accountability.
    It’s not gridlock that kills it; rather, both are a consequence of our political structure, which both creates gridlock and makes real political accountability exceptionally difficult. The lack of accountability issue has been recognized for over a half century, with the American Political Science Association issuing a report in 1950 called “Toward a More Responsible Two-Party System”. So gridlock and non-accountability are related, yes, but rather than one causing the other they have a common cause. And gridlock was pretty much purposely built into the system by Founders who wanted a government that was just effective enough to hold the states together, and not do much beyond that. So it’s a feature, not a bug. If we want to eliminate gridlock, only major structural reform will do it–i.e., move to a more parliamentary system.

    @Jason,
    Gridlock is at best a defensive posture, not something to be wished for in itself.
    I’d go along with that. If there’s actually a chance to roll back some of government’s more interventionist actions, then we libertarians will suddenly bemoan gridlock, but since–as TvD notes–there tends to be a ratchet toward ever more intervention, those roll-back opportunities will probably be rare enough that gridlock is likely to do more good than bad, from a libertarian’s perspective.

    Back to Murali’s question about how it’s working out–the proper measure is not whether it’s preventing a particular policy at a particular time, but whether it is in general preventing more policies I dislike than policies I like. So to frame the question in reference to a particular time is to misunderstand the libertarian’s perspective on it.Report

    • Avatar Murali in reply to James Hanley says:

      Thanks for replying

      Only non-passage itself–i.e., it offers an opportunity for special interests to pay to keep their status quo rents; to reinforce gridlock itself

      I’m thinking of a situation where there is a bill in the works, but it lacks the requisite number of votes to pass. (I suppose that this is what people call gridlock right?) This provides an opportunity for interest groups to come in and buy up legislators’ votes. Of course it also creates opportunities in the other direction. The issue is not what direction, but the fact of lobbyists themselves.

      spending on ineffective policies may be a libertarian’s best alternative–preferable to spending on actual effective policies, when we don’t want that effect

      I think the american healthcare system is a good counter-example to this, at least in part because it seems to me to be typical of the american legislative process. From a libertarian point of view, even a flat out single payer system (like France’s) would be better than what you have now. Of course, pace JamesK, I think it would be best if you modeled yourself after the Singapore system, but it seems clear that the current affordable care act is worse than any of the possible alternatives, even single payer.

      You might object that there wassn’t really any gridlock there, but I seem to remember that there was some worry as to exatly what bill would pass or whether any bill in fact would.

      Where we cannot fight the creep of the welfare state, as libertarians, our second best option is to make the welfare state as efficient as possible. Gridlock stands in the way of that.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Murali says:

        I’m thinking of a situation where there is a bill in the works, but it lacks the requisite number of votes to pass.

        But of course when a bill does have the requisite number of votes to pass, the incentive to lard it with special privileges does not go away. Congressmembers still have incentives to please their local constituents and their contributors. That is, even if they find the bill acceptable as is, they still have an incentive to withhold their vote until the bill is made even more desirable–that’s just normal bargaining.

        This is why I say the problem is not caused by gridlock. Rather, both the gridlock and the special-interest domination are caused by the structure of our political system. Because of that, gridlock and graft are very highly correlated, but that correlation should not be confused with causation.

        I think the american healthcare system is a good counter-example to this, at least in part because it seems to me to be typical of the american legislative process. From a libertarian point of view, even a flat out single payer system (like France’s) would be better than what you have now.
        I agree. But that misses my point that we can’t come to meaningful conclusions about gridlock by pointing to specific pieces of legislation. We have to think about what we would have overall in the absence of gridlock, compared to what we have overall in the presence of it. Any particular policy is just a single data point in the relevant population of data points.

        That’s why my point “a government that brooks no dissent” is important–it sets the outer bounds for the debate, what an absolute absence of gridlock tendencies would result in. So some degree of gridlock–some degree of capacity for a minority to stall a majority (or vice versa in authoritarian systems!)–is crucial. Of course by setting outer bounds, it means we have a vast range within which to argue about just how much is good, and within that range I’m going to, in the most cowardly fashion, refuse to take a firm stance.

        Where we cannot fight the creep of the welfare state, as libertarians, our second best option is to make the welfare state as efficient as possible. Gridlock stands in the way of that.
        That’s a good point, and for myself I don’t necessarily disagree. Please note that I am not necessarily in love with gridlock itself, but am just emphasizing a) what gridlock defenders would say and b) what approach an appropriate critique would take. So from that perspective, I think a gridlock defender would say that an efficient social welfare system leads to more public support of it, whereas an inefficient one holds out the possibility of continuing public dissatisfaction so that eventually there might be enough pressure to reduce or eliminate it (since gridlock isn’t absolute).

        That is, where one person might have the preference order suggested in your comment, namely:
        1. No social welfare system
        2. An efficient social welfare system
        3. An inefficient social welfare system,

        another person might legitimately have a preference order of
        1. No social welfare system
        2. An inefficient social welfare system
        3. An efficient social welfare system.

        I’m not arguing for that preference order. I’m just saying that a person who has that preference order could be pro-gridlock without being internally contradictory.Report

        • Avatar Murali in reply to James Hanley says:

          another person might legitimately have a preference order of
          1. No social welfare system
          2. An inefficient social welfare system
          3. An efficient social welfare system.

          I’m not arguing for that preference order. I’m just saying that a person who has that preference order could be pro-gridlock without being internally contradictory.

          Right, ok. actuallyI did consider the possibility of someone having preferences like that, but I dismiissed it because it seemed obviously perverse to me. I didnt consider the possibility of strategic ordering, but as a pure evaluation of policy desiderata, saying that 2 is better policy than 3 would be perverse and evil. Someone could still prefer to hold hostage the second best option if one thought that the scond and third best options were similar enough that people disenchanted with the third would similarly reject the second. I just dont think the latter possibility is empirically probable. I think the opposite happens.Report

  12. Of course most people who are pro-gridlock are so only because their party doesn’t dominate. That is, they are opportunistically pro-gridlock, rather than pure gridlock advocates. So their arguments will surely be full of easily spotted contradictions.

    Taking this back to our other discussions about liberty and governance, I stated my preference as being for democracy in those issues where collective decision-making was necessary, but with everything else being strictly off-limits to collective decision-making. In the absence of that ideal, gridlock is a potential next-best alternative, by functionally preventing collective decision-making on those issue. The problem, of course, as clearly demonstrated by Murali, is that once there actually has been collective decision-making on those issue–once the gridlock has been, at least occasionally, punctured–further gridlock may just solidify those “out of bounds” (in my theory) decisions. The question then becomes whether continued gridlock prevents further “out of bounds” collective decision-making or simply prevents us from either rolling back those “out of bounds” decisions or at least making them in some way more acceptably legitimate. And the reason I’m on the fence about gridlock as it is currently manifested in the U.S. is because I’m uncertain about the answer to that question.Report

  13. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    Why do you relate gridlock specifically to a Presidential system?

    Gridlock is a result of two things — first, the absence of a politically palatable resolution to a problem, and second, the existence of hyperpluralism within interest groups influencing policy. I don’t think that either Presidential or Parliamentary systems of government deal with such a confluence of events very well. Each fails in its own way, but both will fail.

    To be sure, in a Presidential system the legislature acts and the President vetoes, or the President acts and the legislature overrides, and the result is often stasis. Good if you like stasis, bad if there really is a problem that needs solving.

    I realize that a parliamentary government ensures that the executive is a member of the plurality of the legislature and hopefully a member of the majority in the legislature. This seems like it ought to help. But parliamentary systems do not guarantee against the fragmentation of multi-party coalitions, intra-party cleavages, or special interest group capture of key policymakers. When a tough problem arises, and there are many different interest groups powerful enough to keep their own oxen from getting gored in the solution, you’ll have either stasis (same problem as in a Presidential system) or a collapse of the governing coalition (which creates political instability). While this phenomenon seems more obvious in highly fragmented polities like Israel, it can take place in strong party system too, like in Australia and Canada recently.

    I can think of no better example of the problems that can result from a gridlocked parliamentary system than what we can see happening right now in Greece. You’ve got a tough problem there, combined with powerful interest groups, and no deft hand at the wheel. The result: a government teetering on the brink of disintegration, street violence among other forms of resistance instigated by interest groups, and even adoption of apparently necessary measures meets with refusal from within the government. Indicative, overall, of an erosion of the rule of law.

    If parliamentary systems are structurally better than Presidential in respect to avoiding gridlock, that improvement strikes me as very modest. The problem of gridlock is inherent in democracy; the solution is to be found not in the structure of government but rather in the maturity of the electorate.Report

    • Burt,

      Is that a question to Murali or me? I don’t specifically relate it to a presidential system, but I could see how my arguments could be read that way.Report

      • I was responding to this remark in the OP:

        To be sure many of these problems may simply be due to gridlock in a presidential system, but either way, that shows that there is something deeply wrong about the american political system.

        So I was directly addressing something Murali wrote. But as I’ve indicated elsewhere, blogging is a free-for-all and that means if someone other than Murali wanted to respond to my point, that would be cool.Report

        • Avatar Murali in reply to Burt Likko says:

          The reason I supposed that the problem might be limid to presidential systems was because in parliamentary democracies, a bill which is introduced cannot be amended, just voted on. By contrast, a bill introduced in presidential systems is continuously amended such that there is significant difference between what the bill started off as and what ended up being passed. Each individual part of the bill is subject to negotiation. This in itself creates enormous opportunities for negotiation. It also makes politial battles more intansigient. The barrier to such modification is fairly low. This is because you do not risk much in terms of popularity from your constituency if you hold out for a modification to the bill if you are just mildly dissatisfied with the bill.

          Compare this to one where you cannot modify a bill, only choose to accept it or reject it. Individual legislators are not going to reject a bill of comparatively trivial reasons. Therefore there are fewer avenues of attack for lobbyists. You also risk greater alienation from your constituency if you reject a bill which, while not perfect, would on the balance be better than the status quo. Gridlock or the threat thereof in a parliamentary democracy may therefore have fewer bad consequences than gridlock in a presidential system.Report

          • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Murali says:

            Murali,

            The U.S. fits poorly in the classification of presidential systems because our legislature is so powerful. By most accounts it’s the only legislature in the world where rank and file members play such a regular role in both introducing and drafting legislation. In most other presidential systems there’s much more presidential dominance, hence less legislative independence, hence less on-going revision of legislation.

            So while I agree that our system tends to gridlock (by design), that’s probably not true of presidential systems in general, as they generally don’t actually resemble ours as closely as that lump classification would seem to indicate.

            And I think our problem is clearly not just congressional independence, but our devotion to very local representation combined with gerrymandering of districts. Just eliminating gerrymandering would solve much of the problem by promoting more centrist Representatives. The system would still move creakily slow as it’s designed to do, but there would be more compromise-accepting centrists, and fewer compromise-rejecting extremists.Report

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