The Right Coast

Editor: Thomas A. Smith
University of San Diego
School of Law

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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A Silver Lining and a Conundrum | Power Line

I can see only one good outcome from yesterday’s election: the fact that Barack Obama will be the president who inherits the mess left by Barack Obama. The economy is in awful shape; it won’t get much better given Obama’s policies, and may get worse. Many billions of dollars in capital that have been sitting on the sidelines, awaiting the outcome of this year’s election, will now give up on the United States and go elsewhere. Plants will be built in Korea and Brazil that would have been built here if the election had gone differently. The chronically unemployed–a group that is larger now than at any time since the Great Depression–aren’t going back to work. Nor are the millions who have signed up for permanent disability. Incomes will continue to stagnate. I don’t understand why anyone would vote for four more years of unemployment and poverty, but that is what the American people voted for, and that is what they are going to get.


I really feel that Obama has revealed a bug in our constitutional system. Some would say it's a feature, but it's a bug. The idea was (see Federalist Papers) to make it very unlikely that a demagogue could get himself elected by appealing the the lowest passions (e.g., "revenge", free stuff) of the electorate. This elaborate system was supposed to protect individual rights, including property, among other things. Doesn't seem to have worked out that way. Turns out that by using, for example, the latest computationally driven techniques, you can micro target voters in very specific places, appeal to their specific desires ("factions" doesn't even capture it -- micro-factions maybe)and get yourself elected, while a whole bunch of other people don't even vote. Then you spend out the credit of the country to all friends and sundry, and when the lemon is squeezed out, fly off to be an international celebrity. I believe our Framers would have called this a monarchical abuse and a form of corruption of course. It would not baffle them; they would recognize it. It just turns out our system has evolved into something that does not prevent it very well. I realize this account is comically crude but some more sophisticated version of it is, I think, essentially correct. I think what we probably need is some sort of constitutional reform, something that makes us not prone to fiscal implosion via massive rent seeking and benefits-for-votes systems. --TS

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"I believe our Framers would have called this a monarchical abuse": since what you describe bears no resemblance at all to how the thirteen colonies were run, you are almost certainly right.

Posted by: dearieme | Nov 8, 2012 1:17:30 AM