Thursday, April 03, 2008

In the Meantime, We are Reminded what the phrase "Representative Government" Means

by Ken Houghton

I'm watching (mercifully, with the sound off) Christopher Cox (R-CA; patronage job as SEC Chairman), if CNBC is correct, blatantly lie to Congress (CNBC Chyron: "What happened to Bear Stearns was unprecedented" Let's see: a major financial player with large bets in a specific market sector gets caught ignoring the rule "The market can stay irrational longer than you can stay liquid." Where have we heard that before?) and figuring that Yves or Steve Randy Waldman will take care of it so I don't have to.

And I start fearing for the democratic process, because seeing Christopher Cox explaining financial markets as if he knows anything about them other than how to provide patronage is scary.

So it is reassuring to see this piece on Political Radar, as a reminder of that vox populi does, occasionally, work:
In the Senate this week, a bipartisan bill to help stem the tide of foreclosures nationwide is sliding through the senate like water on Teflon.

A similar bill fell prey to partisan bickering at the end of February when Republicans blocked it after Democrats refused to allow unrelated amendments.

What happened between then and now to end the partisanship? Vacation. That's what. Because while most people take vacation to forget about their jobs, in Congress they take vacation to go talk to their bosses, the people.

"I suspect the other major event was the fact we went home for a couple of weeks. Nothing like going home, Mr.. president, to get a message," said Sen. Chris Dodd, the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, who engineered the bipartisan bill in a marathon 20 hour bipartisan brainstorming session with Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala....

"But they asked the legitimate question, if it was good enough for people to get together to solve a problem on Wall Street, what about the problem on my street? What are you doing here to see to it I can stay in my home? That our neighborhood will not collapse? That our taxes and properties and neighborhoods will not further deteriorate? I suspect more than anything else, going homemade a big difference and -- going home made a big difference."

In the world of economists, this will probably be seen as an inefficient solution, encouraging the (mythical) Moral Hazard.

But in the real world, Congress has ready access to Wall Street bailout advocates. It's only on vacation that they speak with the people who elect them.

It appears that Gore Vidal is correct that the Congressional offices and buildings should never have been fitted with air conditioning: not because of the mischief-making, but rather because it reduces the chance of their getting actual voter input.

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