Political scientist Seth Masket posted this yesterday and I thought it worth repeating. It’s a response to Alyssa Milano who tweeted her thoughts regarding the debt ceiling negotiations: “Hey, Republicans AND Democrats. Liberals, moderates AND conservatives. All of you. Stop the bull**** and just fix it.”:
Here’s why we can’t “just fix it.” There are different ways of fixing it. You could raise taxes. You could cut spending. If you want to raise taxes, you could do it on upper income Americans, or on lower income Americans, or some combination. If you want to cut spending, you could cut the military, social programs, or some combination. There is no one way to fix it. And it turns out that people who want to fix things a certain way tend to group together in parties and elect people to Congress who agree with them. So Congress is filled with people who feel very strongly about doing things a certain way, and others feel very strongly about doing it another way, and their careers depend on them making good on their commitments to the people who elected them. That makes it very hard to quickly reach an agreement. This is the essence of democratic representation. Dictators could fix things much more quickly, but there’s no guarantee they’d do it better. Most likely, they’d do it worse.
A few more interesting things I read today on the debt negotiations:
- http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/01/us/politics/01assess.html?_r=1&pagewanted=1 – why both sides emerge as losers in this debate.
- http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/01/us/politics/01capital.htm?pagewanted=1&_r=1 – why we now look (even more) incompetent in the eyes of the global community.