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September 26, 2011

Maybe Churchill Never Heard of “Orszagocracy”

The problem with our democracy according to former Office of Management and Budget chief Peter Orszag is that there are way too many people who aren’t Peter Orszag:

“To solve the serious problems facing our country, we need to minimize the harm from legislative inertia by relying more on automatic policies and depoliticized commissions for certain policy decisions. In other words, radical as it sounds, we need to counter the gridlock of our political institutions by making them a bit less democratic.”

To be fair, you can have too much Democracy, such as in a homeowner’s association that votes that you need to remove the car you’ve had up on cinder blocks on your front lawn the past three years even though you just ordered a set of decorative plastic garden gnomes to place in front of them. You know, to “class the place up a bit.”

But Mr. Orszag’s problem with democracy is not really that people have too much of a say over others, it’s that too many of the people who have a say disagree with him.

What is the root source of this problem?  The source, of course, is you. You’re too “polarized” to think clearly enough about our situation to agree on a “common-sense approach,” that just so happens mirrors the approach favored by the Democratic Party:

“A progressive tax code is one such automatic stabilizer,… making the tax code more progressive would strengthen its role as an automatic stabilizer.”

“Unemployment insurance is another automatic stabilizer; as the economy weakens, unemployment insurance expands, providing a boost to demand right when the economy needs it.”

“…We should be aiming to reduce the deficit in the long-term but not in the short-term.”

How did we become so polarized that vast numbers of people aren’t Democrats?

According to Peter Orszag, you’re choosing to live in communities of people who share your ideas regarding governance:

One crucial cause, as documented in Bill Bishop’s The Big Sort, is that Republicans and Democrats are increasingly living in separate places.”

By living apart from Democrats, Republicans are being denied their common-sense approaches to problem solving.

Second, you watch news that you want to, as opposed to news Democrats used to decide for you:

“Common news sources, such as major broadcast TV stations and national newspapers, have been joined by an array of websites, podcasts, and cable shows. Research suggests that Americans are only tuning into or logging onto a small share of the media choices available to them—and they are picking the ones that fit their beliefs.”

Wasn’t it better when Walter Cronkite just told you what to believe?

Third, you’re crazy:

“Psychology research shows that, when people with similar opinions are put together, their views become more radical.”

Unless you live where Peter Orszag lives, in which case you’re a Democrat, er, we mean, a common-sense moderate, and believe the government spending more money is the only way to get the government to spend less money. Or something.

Do you know who’s not to blame for this situation? As coincidence would have it, people like Peter Orszag:

“It is true that several respected political scientists have suggested that elites play a larger role in polarization than my analysis would suggest. But those arguments founder on a simple point: Political scientist Gary Jacobson has found that people’s views on politics have not diverged considerably from those of their representatives. This suggests that polarization is not primarily an elite-driven phenomenon.”

Now that’s a relief! 

This is why I believe that we need to jettison the Civics 101 fairy tale about pure representative democracy and instead begin to build a new set of rules and institutions that would make legislative inertia less detrimental to our nation’s long-term health.”

Enough of this Civics 101 fairy tale! Bring on the new era of Rule by the Elites! ‘Tis better we do the bidding of our Lords than try to rely on the opinions of men of inferior…

Wait a second, this sounds familiar.


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September 26, 2011 at 06:53 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink


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Rule by the elites? Hmm, that's sounds alot like that fasc...uh what's that word, eh fascis...oh I remember, fascism. That never seems to work out well.

Posted by: TheOldMan | Sep 27, 2011 1:30:45 PM

This makes so much sense in so many ways. What could go wrong? Isn't this the Grecian Formula - to coin a phrase? And isn't that working out swell?

Posted by: 49erDweet | Sep 26, 2011 8:03:39 PM

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