21.12.10

535 Senators and Congresspersons. Theory. Ideals.

Afaik there's currently about 1 Congressperson for each 600,000 people in the U.S. I don't see why that number shouldn't be closer to 1 million per representative. I also question the need for two senators per state - I feel this function could just as easily be performed by one person.

Granted, these changes would make many political races extremely susceptible to extreme influxes of money and advertising on relatively few people. Small states with not much population could see exorbitant amounts of money poured in per capita. A state with, say 30,000 people would see massive amounts of attention and dollars spent per voter.

However, this is already the case, to a degree. My concern is that a bloated US Congress works very ponderously, costs a lot of money and there is actually very little physical space in and around the Capitol building for each representative.

Line Item Veto - yes, please. I'd love to see that, whether for a Republican or a Democratic President. I'd love to see the death of earmarks and pork, with federal projects and military bases handled more on merit and a desire to cut costs than on individual representatives' political power and positions on key committees.

A smaller US Congress would also take up less time with procedural and idiotic stuff like filibusters.

And while I'm dreaming let's kill the Director of National Intelligence position. The POSITION, not the person, duh. Let's kill the National Counterterrorism Center or whatever it's called. This stuff is better handled by the CENTRAL Intelligence Agency. Throw more of the bloated intelligence structure (see recent WaPo coverage) into the CIA and then have an effectiveness and efficiency review determine what lives and what dies. Either that or throw the CIA in with the DNI. The intelligence community is horribly bloated and fractured and badly needs streamlining and a simpler, more effective organizational structure, recommendations of grand-standing committees notwithstanding.

http://projects.washingtonpost.com/top-secret-america/

Ever notice how when a country is faced with a horrible crime or accident that people rise up in arms, and things are done to "prevent this from ever happening again"?

See various child abduction stories, building collapses, 9/11, natural disasters, the 2004 Tsunami etc. There's a complacency followed by a big event followed by public outcry followed by action.

My concern is that in the aftermath of 9/11 some bloated bureaucracies were created that don't necessarily need cabinet-level stature. We don't need our President to have to deal with 15 people all with their own power-hungry and turf-defending departments.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/cabinet
The Cabinet includes the Vice President and the heads of 15 executive departments — the Secretaries of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, Treasury, and Veterans Affairs, as well as the Attorney General.
I don't see how Homeland Security shouldn't be part of Defense, which would be more aptly named the Department of the Military or somesuch. I don't see how the National Security Administration shouldn't be part of State. I don't see how Agriculture shouldn't be a part of Commerce, or how Interior and Housing/Urban Dev couldn't be combined. Veteran's Affairs doesn't need to be in the President's face all the time - it's just a matter related to ex-Military stuff better handled by a division or department under the SecDef.

Ever notice how politicians love to take responsibility for creating things like a "Program" or a department or an agency with awesome ideas and new responsibilities and innovative things - but no-one ever wants to make what's existing work better? It's human nature to want to be able to pat yourself on the back and point to an achievement.

It's not human nature to want to look objectively at a country's state organs structure and say:

We need:
* some way to handle Commerce and natural resources
* Justice and policing
* Military stuff and border defense
* Intelligence
* Diplomatic and foreign civilian affairs
* Education standards
* Energy-related matters
* Roads and infrastructure
* Monetary policy

Do we really need a DEPARTMENT of Labour? Shouldn't that be a part of Commerce?

Now, this isn't about to happen, and there's no way anyone is going to be powerful enough to force through a streamlining of the government - it's just grown too huge and too invested with people guarding their careers and turf. Gradual change, starting with exposés like the WaPo "Top Secret America" one. Good stuff, that. We don't need people all reading the same base intel and then manufacturing their own newsletters and "daily digest" just to justify their own existence.

BUT 9/11 PROVED THAT THE EXISTING ESTABLISHMENT DIDN'T WORK!

Hell no. 9/11 proved that some things will slip by and the good guys don't always win in open, free societies. We need to get lucky all the time to stop terrorists. The terrorists and our enemies just need to get lucky once. They got lucky and got through. These things will happen and I personally don't want to live in the type of society that's so well defended and un-free that it can't ever happen again. Absolute certain safety is simply not worth the price we would pay in individual and collective freedom. It's the exact same thing that comes from a person getting hurt in military training (like me) - it sucks, but that's the price we pay for effective training. You have to push hard enough that people sometimes get hurt. The parents will scream and complain when Johnny dies in USMC boot camp, but to make that never happen again would be too hard and make the training too costly and ineffective. Sorry Mr. and Mrs., but your son died without ever seeing the enemy, but helped defeat that enemy nonetheless. He didn't win a Silver Star and won't be remembered much, but his death was not in vain and it has to be this way.

BUT THE INTELLIGENCE FAILURE WITH IRAQI WMDs PROVE THAT THE CIA IS ALL ****ED UP!

No, it proved that people will read what they want to read sometimes, and people understand when their civilian masters want a certain type of stuff so they go look for it, or look for ways that it CAN be that way. The evil Neocons knew what they wanted and made sure to promote it well and looked for ways to support their grudge. George H. W. Bush, the elder Bush President, got it right. The younger one and his cohorts got it wrong. Mostly. Saddam Hussein dead and a free, democratic Iraq might still be successful and a much lesser cost in civilian lives over the course of the decades and centuries to come than would have been the cost of leaving it be.

Cost of invading Iraq:
30,000 - 100,000 civilian lives as an educated guess, many more wounded
5,000 US dead and ~30,000 wounded
US global legitimacy ("hey, they lied", Abu Ghraib etc) and standing took a dive

Cost of not invading Iraq:
Low-level conflict with Saddam for indeterminate amount of time
Possible costs to US national security interests in the Middle East
Thorn in the side militarily and diplomatically for ...some time
How many dead Iraqi civilians over the next 50 years?
Eventual re-emergence of Iraqi Baathist threats to neighbours etc?
A life under a Baathist regime can't exactly be considered free and self-determining.
Eventual fall of a despicable form of government at what cost to its people and the rise of what to replace it?

Simply put, we know that bad things happened in the wake of the invasion. We also know that good things happened and that the US is about to leave to a large degree and that the Iraqis are fractured and bickering and stupid enough to use divining rods to search for explosives at check points. And tribal. And fanatically religious to a large degree.

And we know that the regime that was replaced was odious and murderous and had in the past sought to gain power and influence in the region by invading its neighbours and try for WMDs.

We simply don't know what the eventual costs to the world and the region and the advance of democracy, human rights and basic freedoms would have been if the regime change hadn't happened.

You can cry your liberal and anti-American tears all you want. And feel free to complain about Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay and all that torture crap. But you have no idea if it would or wouldn't have been worse to leave Iraq as it was under Saddam and his truly evil sons.

No comments:

Post a Comment