Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The dysfunctional Congress problem

[Temporary note to readers: I am organizing and editing. I have separate entries, one relative to there NOT being government "of, by and for" the people, and the other about the dysfunctional Congress problem. The entries may ultimately get consolidated. I am doing other editing on the two entries.]

How does the money monster make Congress dysfunctional?

There is much power and riches are to be had in Washington DC, and how great the desire for power and riches is for the many people who go to Washington DC to have and keep  power and riches.  These include lawmakers, lobbyists, and leaders of "special interest" organizations.  This is not a universal judgment of the people in Washington DC, but the aggregate of all the desire for power and riches, and doing what is needed to preserve and increase the same, is a significant factor that contributes to preventing the achievement of government "of, by and for" the people and to the dysfunctionaliy of Congress (as will be elaborated below)..

A further harsh reality is the extent of seeking and having "top down" control in order to build, preserve and further enhance one's personal power and riches.  This means much more falling into line with the wishes of those above one, and much less attunement to making government "of, by and for" the people.

Mention should also be made of the intense symbiotic relationship between the political class and the donor class.  A harsh reality is the extent to which there is largely one political class (including both Republicans and Democrats) and one donor class, and there is intense rivalry within, and  sometimes a resort to coercive tools, in the domain of the two classes.  Those in the donor class are intent on winding up on the side of election winners, and those in the political class are intent on getting donors lined up with them, and if a donor does not line up, there is a threat of subsequent retribution against the donor.  This symbiotic relationship contributes to undermining the achievement of government "of, by and for" the people.

While the political class gets their needed funding from the donor class, those in the political class still need to get votes to win and stay in office.  To do this, it helps to keep the voters on their side riled up and angry, which leads to turning every issue into a life and death "us against them" matter.  In short, divisiveness is beneficial to the political class.  This impairs Congress in working together and in reaching compromises that government "of, by and for" the people is properly capable of.

The "us against them" mentality is also useful to the political class in eliciting booster donations from average voters on top of the funding from the donor class that the politicians mainly rely on.

The harsh realities contain a risk of the political class and their lobbyist cohorts and others growing their own role and importance and having more power and riches, to the detriment of the people which government is supposed to be of, by and for.  Take, as an example, complexity versus simplicity of laws.  From the point of view of the people, simpler laws might be better, but, from the point of view of lawmakers, lobbyists and others in DC, complex laws can be much better for their own personal interests.  The more complexity there is in the law, the greater the lawmakers' ability to obtain political contributions, and the more opportunity there is for lobbyists to collect fees for lobbying about inrticacies in complex laws.  The same can be said about the scope and reach of laws.  Laws with less scope and less intrusiveness may be pretty good for the people, but lawmakers, lobbyists and others can personally benefit from laws having greater scope and reach.

Particularly deleterious consequences from the life or death, "us against them" mentality is a stalemate in which there is no compromise between the two sides, and the can gets kicked down the road for someone else to worry about.

The politicians are not going to fix this

I hope I have sufficiently delineated the harsh realities that make for government that is not "of, by and for" the people and that have resulted in a dysfunctional Congress, and I have sufficiently delineated the deleterious effects of the same, and that the combination has persuaded you that a high priority should be assigned to trying to fix these matters.

I further hope you have (or have gained) an appreciation of why the politicians are not going to act on their own, and it will take the citizens to force a meaningful change to be made. I will save for another entry discussion of making changes.

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