2013 December 15 Sunday
Who Had A Bad Year In Washington DC?

A WaPo article on who had a bad year in Washington DC displays the liberal press frame that producing more laws is inherently good. Really? Why?

Add it all up, and you get the least-productive Congress in history (only 55 bills have been passed by both chambers and signed into law this year); the least-popular Congress in history (Nickelback, used-car salesmen and political reporters are all liked more ); and a president most Americans no longer like or, perhaps more important, trust.

Least productive? In any year Congress routinely produces massive pieces of legislation that member reads in entirety. It tacks on large numbers of special clauses unrelated to the main purpose of the legislation. That Congress produced fewer abominations this year is hardly a sign that it is doing a worse job.

Our bigger problem: The permanent government. While parts of it are doing innocuous and helpful things like, say, agricultural research and reduction in air pollution other parts of it (as its members were trained into false assumptions about human nature by higher education nut cases) are busy persecuting businesses for accurately evaluating employee performance or persecuting schools that try to reduce damage to learning environments caused by unruly and violent students.

Parts of the permanent government are necessary (like, say, the parts that hunt down rapist, murderers, kidnappers, con artists, and wannabe terrorists). Other parts, not so much. My worry is that the dysfunctional and damaging parts are going to grow and the useful parts stagnate or shrink.

The recent decision by the US FDA to take away our right to pay $99 to get access to analysis of one's individual genome illustrates how the permanent state will take away our right to know things. We are forced to pay more to get less knowledgeable advice from a physician. Meaning no disrespect to medical doctors. One human mind can't hold all the latest research on the health implications for thousands of genetic variants. Yet the FDA wants to pretend that we are better off going to see a doctor first rather than just getting the information better organized in web forms.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2013 December 15 06:12 PM 


Comments
destructure said at December 15, 2013 9:56 PM:

Agreed. People howl about gridlock and not being able to get things done. But most of what congress "gets done" is special interests and counter productive. We don't need to pass more regulations. We need to prune them back.

Two great clips on this topic.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hELc1wixmpw

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7dVEo8d2qA

James Bowery said at December 16, 2013 10:28 AM:

Its similar to the programmer productivity metric "lines of code per time".

Its also similar to the academic productivity metric "papers published per time".

This sort of goes back to the JudeoChristian worship of "The Word".

It would be hilarious to see that metric applied to mathematics and theoretical physics to see who can win the Nobel Anti-Ockham Prize each year.

Black Death said at December 17, 2013 4:31 PM:

I read the linked article and thought it was mainly idiotic. So Chris Cillizza thought this Congress was unproductive? Maybe that's a good thing. Mostly, Congress hands out favors to various special interests. So a Congress that passes few bills is probably just fine. What would Cillizza consider a good Congress? The Democratic one that passed Obamacare? Or the Republican one that authorized the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and passed Medicare Part D and No Child Left Behind (all with plenty of Democratic votes)? Everyone wants to see more bipartisanship in Washington, but that just means that both sides have agreed on something really bad. I think the country would be much better off if Congress didn't meet for a couple of years. It would even be worthwhile to pay them their salaries during that period -we'd save much more in the long run.


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