Saturday, December 26, 2015

Congress: What is Productive?

I found this interesting:

MP People Say Congress Does not Get Things Done
"Sam, Excellent piece though I agree with Dennis that I think we should grade Congress on how well they work to simplify government and make it more productive / effective, not on how many laws they add to the books. 
This is an interesting link... Especially the "Total Pages in the Code of Federal Regulations (1950 - 2014)" graph.  Regulation Stats
No wonder the cost of government and the cost of complying with all of these laws have becoming somewhat overwhelming to citizens and businesses. As I often say, American consumers want low cost high quality goods and services. And all of the above noted costs make it harder for companies operating in this country to compete globally. 
No wonder Samsung, Hyundai, Subaru, LG, Lenova, etc have made such HUGE gains in our domestic market. They don't have the American regulatory burden, but they do have the American consumers." G2A
And here is another comment string
"That government that which governs least."- Henry David Thoreau Civil Disobedience" Dennis T.

'If one reads a bit: The message is not "no government" but "better government" with a "conscience"" Dennis W.

Here is an interesting link. And looking at the number of pages in my other link, I think Jefferson and Thoreau would be appalled at how big and intrusive government has become.  Quote Interpretation 
"Hence, government was to be shaped and determined by certain principles, not by some set rule for its size or scope without reference to those other principles. Experimentation and the will of the people would resolve the question of size, not some arbitrary limitation. 
"We are now vibrating between too much and too little government, and the pendulum will rest finally in the middle." --Thomas Jefferson to S. Smith, 1788. 
Such a 'happy mean' does not suggest that Jefferson was proposing the least government. Rather, it suggests that a theoretical statement specifically defining the scope of government is not an accurate description of his position. The limitations on government he proposed can better be discovered from examining his views on the proper function of government. 
Of course, Jefferson certainly did not believe in "big government." Even in his time, he felt that there was more government than what was needed. 
"I think, myself, that we have more machinery of government than is necessary, too many parasites living on the labor of the industrious." --Thomas Jefferson to W. Ludlow, 1824." G2A

25 comments:

Sean said...

Interesting that the guy who has a rule for the size of government based on GDP would approvingly cite this:

"Hence, government was to be shaped and determined by certain principles, not by some set rule for its size or scope without reference to those other principles."

John said...

I think if Jefferson thought government was too big back then, he would think we have lost our minds. But you are correct that it is interesting.

Though on the other hand I often site both sides. And I think you are cherry picking.

Laurie said...

I don't think govt is too big. I don't know if we have too many or too few regulations. We probablaly need to get rid of some dumb regulations and add more regulations to some areas. this topic doesn't really interest me.

Here is a link to a different topic that I found interesting. I am curious as to the conservative perspective. Is the story all wrong about Reagan or is this writer mostly accurate and it just didn't matter that Reagan was asleep or out to lunch so much.

Behind the Ronald Reagan myth: “No one had ever entered the White House so grossly ill informed”

jerrye92002 said...

Once government regulations get to the point where no human can comprehend them in their range and complexity, government is too large. Take the IRS code as an example. There is an organization that, every year, submits a slightly-above-average tax return to multiple IRS "help line" services. They submit to something like 12 and get 12 different answers. THAT is government "too large."

Congress isn't productive because, once complexity exceeds comprehensibility, nothing good can happen except by happy accident. Have you ever read a piece of federal (or even MN state) legislation? With luck, there's a enough plain English to know it's a bad idea (typically). Once you've produced two tons of bovine byproducts for which there is no use, does another ton really mark you as "productive"?

John said...

Yes. I was amazed at the "number of pages" history stats.

Sean said...

"I think if Jefferson thought government was too big back then, he would think we have lost our minds. "

Given that most folks can't even recognize what Ronald Reagan actually did as President, and he's only been dead for 11 years, I can't put a whole lot of credence into folks extrapolating what someone who has been dead nearly 200 years thinks.

"And I think you are cherry picking."

Really? You're the guy who blathers on and on about your "33% rule", which you admit you picked because it "sounded good", not me.

Sean said...

"No wonder Samsung, Hyundai, Subaru, LG, Lenova, etc have made such HUGE gains in our domestic market. They don't have the American regulatory burden, but they do have the American consumers."

You're suggesting that Japan, South Korea, etc. are low-regulation countries? Tell that to the Heritage Foundation...

John said...

I meant your ignoring the last paragraph of the Jefferson quote.

I"ll need to research your Korea / Japan comment further.

Sean said...

If it comforts you to believe that you can predict how the Founding Fathers would react to today's world, knock yourself out.

John said...

The last paragraph seemed pretty clear. Since government is probably 100 times more intrusive, controlling, expensive and full of parasites than it was when he wrote it. And there are probably 1000 times mores pages of laws.


As I often ask... How much control and cost do you think would be enough?

Sean said...

"How much control and cost do you think would be enough?"

The government has roles and responsibilities to fill, and it should be funded as such to fill those roles and responsibilities, making sure that the programs that do exist are running as efficiently and effectively as possible.

jerrye92002 said...

A perfectly sensible statement. BUT... how do you decide what the proper "roles and responsibilities" are, and how do you propose to make all that efficiency happen?

John said...

Jerry,
Now that is the point that many Liberals seem to miss.

They seem to think that it is government's destiny to somehow babysit and control every citizen. To eliminate all accidents, ensure financial equity no matter the choices each person makes, etc.

And they are willing to give up our personal freedoms and control in pursuit of this impossible goal.

jerrye92002 said...

Not quite correct. They are willing for YOU to give up personal freedom and control to make their fantasies come true. It's the old "wouldn't it be nice" syndrome, where the laws of human nature, of physics and chemistry and economics can be overridden by Congress.

John said...

I mean apparently the people in 1970 had much much too little government control with only ~60000 pages, so we tripled the number... And it sounds like Sean is willing to let the bureaucrats triple it again.

John said...

Economist Regulatory
Business Insider

Sean said...

Ah, the unnamed "they" are at it again. And John is posting nonsensical stories about what I believe on my behalf. May as well finish 2015 like it began, I guess. The fires of the strawmen will keep us warm on this winter evening...

John said...

Please note that no where did I state...

"Sean believes", "Sean thinks", "Sean feels"

I did say "And it sounds like Sean is willing to let the bureaucrats triple it again." which your statement seems to support "The government has roles and responsibilities to fill, and it should be funded as such to fill those roles and responsibilities".

Now am I incorrect, or are you willing to stop the endless creation of new laws, regulations, etc and the ever increasing cost of government as a percentage of our GDP?

When will you say enough is enough? Is there a point?

jerrye92002 said...

Maybe the problem IS that government has become the "unnamed they"-- faceless and unaccountable bureaucrats scurrying about to complicate the already-incomprehensible morass of regulation, with the best of intentions but with the outcome almost certainly unknowable and almost as certainly counterproductive.

And John, I think percent of GDP is a poor measure. Other countries do fine with a higher percentage, I think we could do better on one even lower than our historic norms. The question isn't how much money government spends, it is what it is spent ON, and, secondarily, how much cost they add through regulation, without directly spending. I've seen estimates nearing $1/2 Trillion, and that's for the tax system alone.

John said...

Certainly that is the case if folks want to measure their productivity in terms of how many laws passed.

Ooh look I was a great politician, I passed more laws than all my peers combined. Yippee!!!

Please tell me about those higher GDP successes.

jerrye92002 said...

http://www.investopedia.com/financial-edge/0911/countries-with-the-highest-government-spending-to-gdp-ratio.aspx

Denmark, France and Sweden seem to be pretty successful. Cuba and Zimbabwe are not. Spending/GDP is not a predictor of social or economic success, IOW.

John said...

Percent of GDP List

jerrye92002 said...

Reading more carefully, it appears US spending/GDP is approaching 40%. Add the cost of regulation and one can see that our very freedom and prosperity are threatened.

John said...

It would be pretty easy to put us in the 50% realm like those folks. Just go to single payer healthcare like the countries you are calling pretty successful. Good idea? I agree with the following quote.

"Government spending as a percentage of GDP is a simple metric that some may rely on to keep up on government spending across the globe. One weakness of this measure is that it considers only the expense side and ignores government revenues generated through taxation and other methods. Use this in conjunction with other statistics to get a true handle on government spending."

One must know what is in the basket of goods that is being paid for out of those funds.

Please remember also that comparing Denmark etal one by one to the USA is somewhat pointless. (like apples vs watermelon)

jerrye92002 said...

I think that was my point, that using GDP ratio as a measure of success or failure is not appropriate until one knows what the spending BUYS for a society. Single payer health care works in those Scandinavian countries (as do school vouchers), but those may not work in the more heterogeneous USA, nor are they necessarily the best way of doing things that a more free-market economy would naturally find.

Yes, having tax revenues adequate to fund the welfare state, rather than ever-increasing debt, is quite properly a measure of success, but is the welfare state a NOT a smart way of spending those revenues, at least as it's done in the US. Again, it's a matter of how well those tax dollars, ASSUMING there ARE tax dollars, are spent. Pouring more money into a failed program is COUNTERproductive, yet Congress does it 14 months out of every 12.